View Full Version : AI Experiment - Luxembourg's Rise & Fall?

21-05-2008, 01:24
Inspired by Kipfizh's superb AI experiment with the Bandits I decided, a while back, to start running something along similar lines in FM2007. I didn't publish the results of this 'experiment' as I went along - it was primarily for my own enjoyment and I didn't honestly think anybody would be particularly interested in something that's all been done before using the old version of FM. However, as I enter the 20th year of competition I thought I'd share with you all some of the goings on that I've witnessed.

To set the scene I created fifteen excellent 17 year old prospects all with CA of 120 and PA of 200. They were all originally unattached and their first (and declared) nationality was that of that fine footballing nation, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg - a team ranked 200th in the world with a team made up ostensibly of postmen, accountants and primary school teachers! It wouldn't take much to realise that with the coming of age of 15 of the finest footballers on the planet that things were about to change.

Now it's a little far fetched (understatement of the year) to think that Luxembourg, a small landlocked country with a population of under 500,000 and an amateur football infrastructure, could produce such gems. Indeed only one of these players was born in Luxembourg - the rest had undoubtedly been attracted to emigrate in their teens and declare for the nation by nothing other than the lure of cold, hard cash. Luxembourg does, after all, have the highest GDP per capita of any country in the world.

Without further ado then a brief introduction to this rather mercenary group of players.

Uri Templemann - Goalkeeper - born in Dresden, Germany.

Michael Kriek - Goalkeeper - born in Nurnberg, Germany.

Taylor Cooke - Left Back - born in Christchurch, New Zealand, but of English heritage.

Ruud Van Der Voss - Centre Back - born in Amsterdam, Holland.

Dario Ivanovic - Centre Back - born in Split, Croatia.

Sergio Cardenhas - Right Back - born in Valencia, Spain.

Laurent De Puniet - Defensive Utility Player - born in Nantes, France.

Ilia Chernenko - Left Midfield - born in Tchelyabinsk, Russia.

Gustav Mendelsohn - Defensive Midfielder - born in Salzburg, Austria.

Dimi Kasparitis - Central Midfielder - born in Athens, Greece.

Vasily Zacharaev - Attacking Midfielder - born in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Giovanni De Ferrari - Right Midfielder - born in Milan, Italy.

Rico - Attacking Utility Player - full name, Ricardo Ortario Rodriguez, born in Rio De Janiero, Brazil, but also of Portugese heritage.

Carsten Friedrich - Striker - born in Aachen, Germany.

Jean Santer - Striker - the only native Luxembourger of the group.

Andrei Kiriakov - Striker - born in Yekaterinburg, Russia.

I'm not going to go into detail about each season that has gone by, but rather will write an overview of the career of each player and an overview of European club, and international football over the last 20 years. Sadly I've not pulled my finger out in time to get screenshots of all the players as Rico, Kaspiritis and Chernenko have now retired without going into management - I still remember their stellar careers and transfer history well though so can elucidate on that. Fortunately the majority are still playing at the grand age of 37 while a couple have recently retired and taken up coaching roles. For reference I have been running the English league (Premier League & Championship only), and the top divisions in Spain, Italy, Germany, Holland, France, Portugal, Spain, Scotland and Russia and the current in-game date is July 2026.

The 15 newly created players were not the only aspect of this experiment. In some ways it didn't really start as an experiment at all because the manager of Luxembourg for the first 8 years was none other than yours truly. It meant I could start picking my new players for the full national team straight away, whereas I think the AI might have been more inclined to take them through the Under 19's and Under 21's to blood them a little first - preferring more experienced (albeit far inferior) players for the full national squad in the early stages of the game.

I also wanted to future proof Luxembourg’s new found eminence in the football world to some degree. It was clear that when the stars began to fade so would Luxembourgish football. To that end I gave Spora Luxembourg a huge 120,000 all seater stadium (in which home national games would also be played), a fantastic academy and youth setup and a decent reputation. I hoped they could produce some good home grown talent that would at least keep the national squad in a respectable position in the world order and prevent them from sinking straight back into ignominy.

A little later in the experiment (around the 2020/21 season I believe) I also decided to shake things up in the English leagues a little. Hull City (a club I have a particular affinity for) were teetering on relegation from the championship (and in my game that would mean into non-playable obscurity). I therefore decided to increase their stadium size to a whopping 100,000 (with the means to fill it) and pushed their reputation from 5,500 to 7,800. I didn't directly modify their bank balance, but gate receipts alone should have made them rich in no time at all. If, of course, they could avoid relegation. More on 'The Tigers' fortunes later.

Another point to note, as alluded to earlier, is that I haven't being running this as a strict holiday game style AI experiment. I've been actively involved from day one. I managed Luxembourg for 8 years before resigning to take a well earned break. However, when the call came from the English FA to replace the outgoing manager in the hot seat I decided to give it a whirl. I managed England from 2016 to 2024 before being (rather harshly I thought) sacked after a disappointing European Championship - apparently the semi final wasn't nearly good enough! I was promptly inundated with offers from big European clubs - not surprising given my world class, oft called 'legendary' reputation by then. Consequently for the last 2 seasons I've been in charge of taking CSKA Moscow back to the top in the Russian Premier Division after a number of years in the wilderness (I turned down Barcelona by the way). I plan to add a bit of my own ongoing career story into the overview where it's appropriate.

In the posts that follow I'll begin by going through the overview of the careers of the original fifteen, starting with the three who have retired completely. I hope it is of interest to some people. Let me know if there is anything you'd particularly like to see regarding the players or the state of world football as a whole and I will try and oblige with appropriate screenshots and a bit of my own spiel (I love writing, and particularly love writing about football). Remember also this is an ongoing project and I intend to keep this running to see how a number of potentially interesting storylines pan out - not least the progress of the Luxembourg national team and the management careers of my created players. Obviously I'll take no offence if there is no general interest in my game and I'll just go back to running it all for myself and leave you all in peace.

21-05-2008, 02:36
A well written piece there. sounds interesting and I look forward to seeing what happened http://community.sigames.com/customicons/icon14.gif

21-05-2008, 09:20
Originally posted by valencia:
A well written piece there. sounds interesting and I look forward to seeing what happened http://community.sigames.com/customicons/icon14.gif
WHS http://community.sigames.com/customicons/icon14.gif

21-05-2008, 13:54
Read it all.. fantastic work!

The problem with these kinds of experiments normally is that even with 200 CA players, bad nations with bad managers will still play VERY defensively and lose all their games... so hopefully you being manager had a GOOD effect on that little bug.

Look forward to reading it!

Marky Mark!
21-05-2008, 19:39
Originally posted by deadlydevices:
Read it all.. fantastic work!

The problem with these kinds of experiments normally is that even with 200 CA players, bad nations with bad managers will still play VERY defensively and lose all their games... so hopefully you being manager had a GOOD effect on that little bug.

Look forward to reading it!

Is this true? I thoguht the formation was decided by the 'preferred formation' of the manager, so if his preferred formation was an attacking one, that was generally how he would play, whether it suited the team or not?

21-05-2008, 22:13
Originally posted by Marky Mark!:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by deadlydevices:
Read it all.. fantastic work!

The problem with these kinds of experiments normally is that even with 200 CA players, bad nations with bad managers will still play VERY defensively and lose all their games... so hopefully you being manager had a GOOD effect on that little bug.

Look forward to reading it!

Is this true? I thoguht the formation was decided by the 'preferred formation' of the manager, so if his preferred formation was an attacking one, that was generally how he would play, whether it suited the team or not? </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I don't think Luxembourg could be be accused of playing defensively under the AI. Their record under the AI manager who succeeded me was equally impressive, and included their record win to date - an 18-0 thumping of Estonia! More on that later.

I'll be posting the first career overviews today. Watch this space http://community.sigames.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

23-05-2008, 01:37
As promised the first of the career overviews - starting with the 3 players who have now retired completely from the game (as such I'm afraid I can't offer any screenshots) ...

Ilia Chernenko

Like so many others Ilia decided to start his career back in the country of his birth. Spartak Moscow came calling and he joined them without a moments hesitation. He had two decent seasons with the Russian club learning the trade and increasing his reputation. Inevitably, it didn't take long for the big European clubs to take an interest in the young left winger and a bid of £7,000,000 from Inter Milan saw him jump ship to play in the big leagues. Chernenko became a firm fan favourite at the San Siro - playing 18 consecutive seasons for the club and that loyalty was rewarded with 8 Serie A titles, 3 Italian Cups (including doing 'The Double' twice), and 2 Champions League winners medals. His total of 539 league appearances is now an Inter club record that is likely to stand for some considerable time. He was also virtually ever present on the national stage never picking up a serious injury and subsequently becoming the first Luxembourger to reach 100 caps, and the first player in the history of world football to play for his country 200 times. When he retired in June 2026 he had amassed an amazing 209 caps, scoring 41 goals. As the term 'model professional' was made for the likes of Ilia I think he would have made an excellent coach and as my favourite player I was very sorry to see him choose not to stay active in the game. I think he's probably got his own show on the telly by now though.


Rico was an interesting player to watch in the early years. His natural mastery of the Portugese language saw Braga come in for him. However, they decided to cash after just a single season in the reserves - selling him to Chelsea for a £3,100,000 - a fraction of what he would later be worth. However, Chelsea too failed to get the best out of the young starlet - loaning him firstly to Wolves for a season, and to Hibernian the next (where he tore up the SPL and was named Scottish Footballer of The Year). He obviously loved his time at Hibs as it was listed as a favoured club right up until the point he brought his career to an end. Rico had proved he had what it took to play to a high level in the Premier League, but as a player with a continental head he was unable to resist the temptation of moving back aboard - a £15,250,000 transfer to Inter in 2009 saw him play two seasons alongside a number of his Luxembourg team-mates in the heart of midfield. However, when Spanish giants Real Madrid tabled a £30,000,000 bid in the Summer of 2011 he was off again. Thirteen highly successful seasons followed before he was eventually released in June 2024 after making 375 league appearances for 'The Galacticos'. During this time he lifted the La Liga title 6 times and appeared in one victorious Champions League final. Rico felt he had another season left in him and looked for a club for a year, but having no interest in coming to play for me at CSKA Moscow and with no other clubs interested decided to draw his career to a close at the age of 35. As an attacking utility player Rico could play anywhere in midfield and could double as a very effective striker. He played 153 times for Luxembourg and scored 48 goals.

Dimi Kasparitis

Although he had interest from a number of top Greek clubs Dimi Kasparitis decided to start his fledgling career at Livorno in Serie A. He followed a similar pattern to a lot of the others in that a couple of seasons was all it took before Europe's elite clubs came sniffing around. In Dimi's case it was Manchester United that won the chase with a £10,750,000 bid - the supremely talented central midfielder considered the answer to replace Paul Scholes. Replace him he did, but for only one and a half seasons. In the January 2010 transfer window 'The Red Devils' found it impossible to turn down a massive £31,000,000 from AC Milan and so Kasparitis returned to Italy - where he would remain for the rest of his career. Sadly the purchase of Dimi coincided with Milan's longest barren spell in the league for a generation. It took until his 16th season (2024/25) with the 'Rossoneri' for Kaspirities to lift the Serie A title - that they did the league and cup double that season, however, was pretty good compensation! In the 15 seasons that preceded AC Milan had still been an excellent cup team - 4 Italian cups, 1 UEFA Cup and the Champions League all won during this time. The 2024/25 double winning campaign turned out to be Kasparitis' penultimate season. In his last he helped Milan lift the Champions League trophy once again - a fitting way to end a fantastic career. Internationally he also enjoyed much success with Luxembourg (to be discussed in more detail later) having won 160 caps and scoring 20 goals during the nations' heyday.

23-05-2008, 01:52
I also feel obliged to say that in Rico's last season with Real Madrid (2024/25) they had an unbelievable season - claiming a league, cup and Champions League treble. However, Rico was no longer first choice at this stage in a team blessed with an already awesome midfield. He made enough sub appearances to get a La Liga winners medal but missed out on the cups. Poor fella.

23-05-2008, 01:52
This is a great thread, really interesting to read.

The quality and the detail makes it a good read and I'm looking forward to more.


23-05-2008, 07:01
Those player updates were v.good, an enjoyable read so far http://community.sigames.com/customicons/icon14.gif

A pretty heroic effort from Ili Chernenko - 209 caps! http://community.sigames.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_eek.gif

23-05-2008, 08:43
Fantastic thread mate, lots of detail and very intresting!

23-05-2008, 15:16
And now on to the 4 players who have retired and gone on to careers in management ...

Giovanni De Ferrari

Giovanni played his first competitive games for Lyon, but Lazio were soon in the market for the promising right winger tabling a £10,500,000 bid. While he quickly became established as a first choice and was generally considered the best player at the Stadio Olimpico he won precisely nothing during his 7 seasons in Rome. The best Lazio could manage was 8th in the league in 2009/10. In truth he was far too good for an underachieving club. Enter the dominant force in Italian football - Inter Milan - signing Giovanni for an extraordinary £52,000,000 before the start of the 2015/16 season. In his first campaign with Inter he realised what he had been missing out on - the team winning a league and cup double. Two more Serie A titles, another Italian Cup and a Champions league winners medal followed over the course of the next 9 seasons. However I don't believe he ever achieved his full potential (perhaps suffering the weight of expectation brought about by his massive price tag) and in July 2024 De Ferrari became the first of the original fifteen to hang up his boots and took up a youth coach role at Dutch outfit VVV. His decision surprised me somewhat as his international compatriots have shown that even at 35 years old he could have kept playing for a good number of seasons at a high level. One season in Holland was followed by a move across the border to Bayer Leverkusen, again to coach their youngsters. However, he didn't stay there long and jumped ship to German giants, Bayern Munich last season. He's worked exclusively as a youth coach to date, but I have no doubts he'll eventually move on to bigger and better things. Perhaps with Munich underachieving for the past few seasons he'll get his chance to manage before too long.

Career Stats (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/De_Ferrari_Career.png)
Staff Profile (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/De_Ferrari_Profile.png)

Carsten Friedrich

It always seems to be the strikers that have the most renowned careers in this game and that has certainly been no exception in my experiment. Carsten Friedrich was a case in point. Again it was to the country of his birth that Carsten headed at first. Gelsingkirchen (Schalke 04 to me) snapped him up and he started banging them in for fun in their Under 23 team. His second season saw him promoted to the first team squad and he did well despite his tender age - too well in fact for Schalke to maintain any hope of hanging on to their prodigy. Bayern Munich managed to pick up Friedrich on a free transfer at the end of his contract. However, he was still being chased by just about every big name in European football and after just a single season in Munich transferred to AS Roma for £13,000,000 - starting a long, legendary spell with the club. He stayed loyal throughout his remaining playing days, captaining the side and picking up 4 Serie A titles, 2 Italian cups, and the Champions League twice over the course of 15 seasons - additionally named World and European Player of the Year four times apiece. He was also a legend on the international stage, scoring at more than a goal a game for the most part before age started to catch up with him. However, 167 goals from 183 caps isn't half bad. He had a personal duel with Carlos Vela for the most goals in international football through his career, and as with most things with Carsten he came out on top (Carlos could only manage 159!). His love for Roma (love that was returned tenfold by adoring fans) meant that Carsten wouldn't contemplate turning out for another club. When no longer a first choice he brought the curtain down on his glorious playing career. He has since moved back to Germany to become a Scout for newly promoted Paderborn in the Bundesliga although I have absolutely no doubt that bigger things lie in wait!

Career Stats (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Friedrich_Career.png)
Staff Profile (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Friedrich_Profile.png)

Andrei Kiriakov

Andrei actually took a little while to get going in the game, and in fact was my third choice striker for Luxembourg during the majority of my tenure as national coach. He was another player that Lyon snapped up as a 17 year old (they must have some amazing scouts having got hold of Kiriakov, De Ferrari and two other Luxembourg starlets!) and for two seasons he played mostly for their under 19s. He was at Lyon for a total of three years - longer than any of his international colleagues. In his third and final season in France (now playing as first choice striker) he helped guide the club to an amazing Champions League winning treble. Now while Lyon are undoubtedly a big club, and as champions of France and Europe had increased their reputation no end, they were still not considered big enough to match Kiriakov's growing ambitions. And so Andrei also fled the nest - a £16,500,000 move to AC Milan impossible for all parties to turn down. In the years that followed Kiriakov came to mean to Milan what Carsten Friedrich was to Roma - a living legend. He was soon installed as club captain and fame and fortune followed in abundance. He also became first choice for Luxembourg after I stepped down following the 2014 World Cup. He played in the same team as Kasparitis for 17 seasons and it is perplexing that despite scoring 316 league goals for the club they only managed to win Serie A once (although they finished in the top 3 six times). However, his personal accolades were nothing short of stunning - four times World Footballer of the Year, twice World Player of the Year and three times European footballer of the year. He was also voted by the fans as AC Milan's best player for 14 seasons in a row! Eventually, with the pace in his legs fading, he decided to call time on his playing career after the 2025/26 season (at the same time as Kasparitis) and has wasted no time getting into management - his first job taking over the helm of the Luxembourg national team (for whom he played 194 times, scoring 153 goals)! I really can't wait to see what he can achieve with the next generation of players.

Career Stats (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Kiriakov_Career.png)
Staff Profile (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Kiriakov_Profile.png)

Jean Santer

After eulogising so profusely over the careers of Friedrich and Kiriakov I find myself unable to get quite so excited when describing Jean Santer. It's not as if the native Luxembourger had a disappointing career - he didn't - but he just never reached the heights that his international striking partners reached. There were similarities. Santer also dedicated himself to a single club for the majority of his career - in his case Valencia (who payed Sampdoria £15,250,000 for his services). He was, in my mind, the most naturally gifted goal scorer of the bunch (as demonstrated by winning the European Golden Boot award on no less than five occasions) and the player who showed the most early promise - first choice on my Luxembourg team sheet. With Valencia he lifted the Spanish Cup four times and UEFA Cup twice, and was named World Player of the Year twice and Spanish Player of the Year four times. He played 479 league games for Valencia, scoring 312 goals - both club records. Add that to all the international success he enjoyed with Luxembourg and you have one superb set of achievements don't you? The answer is, of course, yes when judged against normal standards, but none of these players can be considered normal. Out of the original fifteen he was the only one never to win a domestic league title and also the only one to miss out on a Champions League winners medal. Additionally subsequent Luxembourg managers put Santer down as third in the striking pecking order - thus 'limiting' his international caps and goal tallies to 136 and 80 respectively. Consequently when he retired from playing at the end of the 2025/26 season (after a single season with Levante) I can't help but think he had missed out a little. In conclusion Santer had a very, very good career, but it could have been even better. Jean still remains active in the game, however, and is currently looking for work as a scout. Time will tell how he stacks up in the domain of football management.

Career Stats (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Santer_Career.png)
Staff Profile (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Santer_Profile.png)

24-05-2008, 04:13
Really like your updates so KUTGW http://community.sigames.com/customicons/icon14.gif

24-05-2008, 23:43
Milan suck even in the future and with god-mode players!!


great updates http://community.sigames.com/customicons/icon14.gif

25-05-2008, 00:31
I love your updates. keep them coming.

25-05-2008, 05:44
I look forward to hearing how the national team fared under your guidance

In my experience (http://img155.imageshack.us/my.php?image=unlikelypp3.jpg), human-managed minnows with overpowered players find victory ridiculously easy to come by. http://community.sigames.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

28-05-2008, 13:07
Three more players have recently retired ...

Vasily Zacharaev

Zacharaev was another player to be picked up by Lyon on a free transfer, although he only played 9 first team games over two seasons and was sold to Fiorentina for £3,100,000 before their remarkable treble winning 2008/09 campaign. He quickly became a regular in Florence and had two very good seasons at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. However, his progress quickly caught the eye and in the Summer of 2010 made the 150 mile trip north to join international team mates Kiriakov and Kasparitis at AC Milan - a sum of £12,250,000 paid for his services. Milan won the Italian Cup in Vasily's first season, but perhaps he felt something in the water because he quickly got itchy feet again. When Real Madrid offered £32,000,000 during the January 2012 transfer window Zacharaev packed his bags and completed his third transfer in four seasons. In Madrid Vasily finally found some stability and enjoyed the best years of his career - scoring goals as a permanent fixture in midfield. During his six seasons as one of 'The Galacticos' the club enjoyed a decent, although not outstanding, level of success - two La Liga titles and a single Spanish Cup the only genuine highlights. Perhaps he thought he needed to move again to challenge for more silverware for when Liverpool made an enormous £43,500,000 bid for him in January 2016 he decided to leave the bright lights of Madrid behind. In that same season the Anfield club claimed the Champions League, but a cup tied Zacharaev missed out. That said his initial decision to join Liverpool seemed a good one. They triumphed in the Premier League 4 times in the next 5 years, including doing the double in the 2021/22 season. However, things tailed off a little for both player and club during his latter years - the silverware dried up, and Zacharaev was farmed out to Coventry in his final season. Would he ever look back with regret at leaving Real Madrid? After he left the club won the La Liga title 8 times in 10 seasons and lifted the Champions League trophy twice! To be honest I don't think he will dwell too much on that. He will have finished his career extraordinarily wealthy (nearly £91,000,000 spent on him in transfer fees!) and enjoyed a good amount of success both domestically and internationally. Besides regret is a terrible thing.

Career Stats (Part 1) (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Zacharaev_Career1.png)
Career Stats (Part 2) (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Zacharaev_Career2.png)
Profile (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Zacharaev_Profile.png)

Dario Ivanovic

Any team with Dario Ivanovic at the heart of its defence was going to be a tough one to break down. The guy was immense - standing 6'3" tall, carrying 14 stone of lean muscle, but with the pace and skills to rival some of the worlds best creative midfielders. Werder Bremen were fortunate to have the guy on their books for two and a half seasons, but were unable to turn down an £11,000,000 bid from Manchester United in January 2009. It wasn't long before he was handed the captains armband and with the 'Red Devils' Ivanovic claimed 3 Premier League titles and one FA Cup. However, times were a'changing in English football with Liverpool once again returning as the dominant force, and Dario was not the kind of player to be satisfied with second best. As such he was unable to resist the lure of becoming a 'Galactico' at Real Madrid although the Spanish giants had to break the bank to land him during the 2015 January transfer window - £45,500,000 the eventual price tag. The La Liga title immediately followed, and with the signing of his international team mate, Ruud Van Der Voss, a year later Real Madrid had assembled the best central defensive partnership in the world - it cost them a hell of a lot of money though. Subsequent success was virtually guaranteed (read all about it below) and the titles and personal accolades flowed with comparative ease. Unlike Van Der Voss, Dario Ivanovic was happy to be loaned out in his final seasons after losing his first team place. He spent a season at Coventry, followed by a season at West Ham and he did well at both despite his advancing years. However, at 38 he decided enough was enough and brought his career to an end following the 2026/27 campaign. Although he claimed to be interested in taking up a coaching role following his playing days Ivanovic ultimately decided against it. He will forever be remembered as a truly legendary defender, and also the only the second player in history to play for his country 200 times, finishing 6 caps short of Ilia Chernenko's world record.

Career Stats (Part 1) (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Ivanovic_Career2.png)
Career Stats (Part 2) (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Ivanovic_Career1.png)
Profile (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Ivanovic_Profile.png)

Ruud Van Der Voss

Few players in the history of world football will have retired from the game with a medal haul to rival that of Ruud Van Der Voss. Despite being born in Amsterdam he chose to start his career not at Ajax, but at arch rivals Feyenoord. After the two seasons of establishing himself as a world beating talent he was bought by Inter Milan for £12,000,000 and was an absolute rock at centre back for the Italian giants. He had 7 full seasons at Inter and during this time helped the team win the Scudetto 5 times, pick up one Italian Cup and the Champions League in 2015. Although his Luxembourg team mate, Dario Ivanovic, might have something to say about it there was little doubt that Van Der Voss was the best central defender in the world at his peak. Real Madrid certainly thought so and given their desire to restore their absolute hegemony in the Spanish league were encouraged to splash out £43,000,000 for the defender in the January 2016 transfer window to partner Ivanovic for both club and country. As alluded to earlier their arrival marked a huge turning point in the fortunes of the club. Over the course of the next 11 seasons 8 La Liga titles, 2 Spanish cup and 2 Champions League winners medals were added to his already burgeoning trophy cabinet - the treble in 2023/24 the highlight of a magnificent period of success for the club. How neither Van Der Voss or Ivanovic claimed the European Defender of the Year award at any point in their careers is an absolute mystery to me - nobody else really came close to their standards. The two of them were a massive part of Luxembourg's international success. Even the best strikers in the world had a tough time getting past the pair. Ruud could have gone on to play for at least another season in my mind, but at 38 decided to call it a day after the 2026/27 season (in which he was no longer a first choice). Upon his retirement from playing he had amassed 199 caps for Luxembourg and scored 13 goals. His new challenge is to make a success of his coaching career, and he has since started on that journey by taking a youth coach position at Dutch club, VVV.

Career Stats (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Van_Der_Voss_Career.png)
Player Profile (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Van_Der_Voss_Profile1.png)
Staff Profile (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Van_Der_Voss_Profile2.png)

29-05-2008, 09:26
I really love your updates http://community.sigames.com/customicons/icon14.gif

29-05-2008, 13:06
Can I ask where the names are from? Inspired?

30-05-2008, 00:32
Originally posted by thezogsageordie:
Can I ask where the names are from? Inspired?

I mostly just made them up, although with some influences e.g. Carsten Friedrich is a nod to Carsten Jancker, Jean Santer = Jacques Santer. I also had to use a first name of Ruud for a native Dutchman, and Ferrari in the surname of the Italian fella. Terrible stereotyping really!

30-05-2008, 00:57
The two full backs retired last night ...

Taylor Cooke

Taylor was of rather mixed heritage - born in New Zealand, raised in England, and declared to play internationally for Luxembourg. England's loss was certainly Luxembourg's gain for he was a superb left back. Of all the original players he had the least illustrious beginnings, playing his first season for amateur Luxembourg club Etzella Ettelbruck. Unsurprisingly even having just turned 17 he was straight into the first team and playing well. This, inevitably, didn't go noticed and Arsenal were soon in for him - taking him on a free transfer. While not yet ready for the first team at the Emirates Stadium, Cooke was loaned to Leeds United in the Championship and he was instrumental in bringing Premier League football back to Elland Road. His performances with Leeds gained him a starting berth for Arsenal the following season, but after just two and half years total in London he became yet another player to move to Inter Milan - the undisputed giants of Italy - for £28,000,000. Four Serie A titles followed in his 5 seasons with the club playing alongside a number of his international team mates. However, Cooke still harboured a desire to play for the team he supported as a child - Liverpool. When a £42,500,000 bid came in from the Anfield club in at the start of the 2014/15 season it was an offer he simply couldn't turn down. It also proved an excellent career move as Liverpool were once again rising to the top of the English game. From the 2015/16 season onwards they went on a run of 5 consecutive EPL titles - the last of which included an FA Cup win. They were also the only team to win and defend a Champions League crown - winners in 2016 and 2017. Another Premier League winners medal was secured in the 2021/22 campaign, but this was Cooke's and Liverpool's last piece of major silverware. However, the club still top the world reputation list and further success won't be long in coming around again. Taylor Cooke had two seasons on loan at the end of his career - one with Valladolid, and another with Schalke 04 - but on his return from Germany was released by Liverpool and failed to find a club interested in taking on a 38 year old full back with knackered knees! He played for Luxembourg 153 times, and scored 3 goals.

Career Stats (Part 1) (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Cooke_Career2.png)
Career Stats (Part 2) (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Cooke_Career1.png)
Profile (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Cooke_Profile.png)

Sergio Cardenhas

If it wasn't for a final season on loan at French club Caen, Sergio Cardenhas would have been the only player of the original fifteen to play his entire career in the same country. He started out with Valencia and had three enjoyable seasons at the club, flitting between the Under 19s, the reserves and the first team. But try as Valencia might to keep hold of their young starlet, Sergio was a Barcelona boy born and bred, had always dreamt of playing for the club, and certainly wasn't going to refuse the offer to join when his contract came to an end in the Summer of 2009. He went on to play 16 consecutive seasons at the Nou Camp - his 491 league appearances a club record. In the first 7 of those seasons Barcelona maintained parity and shared domestic silverware with their arch rivals, Real Madrid. They won La Liga 4 times and the Champions League. However, their domestic league success in 2015/2016 remains their most recent and Barca has since gone 12 seasons without climbing back to the top of Spanish football. Two Spanish Cups, another Champions League success, and the UEFA Cup (all won with Cardenhas in the team) sweetened the blow to a certain extent, but it must be galling to see Real dominate La Liga to the extent they have over the last decade or so. Manager changes have been frequent at the Nou Camp during this time - desperate for success and intolerant of failure. Cardenhas never let himself down during this time, putting in consistently high class performances year in year out. When his legs started to go, younger men challenged for his place, and for his final two seasons he was loaned out to Valladolid (where he partnered Taylor Cooke on the other flank), and ultimately to Caen. Barcelona had no further need for him when he returned from loan a second time and released him at the end of the 2026/27 season. A fruitless four month search for a new club led to his retirement from the game. Cardenhas was ever present at right back for Luxembourg during the glory years - he finished with 173 caps and 4 goals.

Career Stats (Part 1) (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Cardenas_Career2.png)
Career Stats (Part 2) (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Cardenas_Career1.png)
Profile (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Cardenas_Profile.png)

30-05-2008, 01:13
Four players to go all of whom are still playing, and all of whom are looking to carry on in to management. I'll write them up when they eventually retire, although the goalies might keep going for a few years yet - Kreik is still in a squad rotation at Liverpool, while Templemann is first choice for Hamburg. De Puniet can't be far from retirement - currently at Modena in the minor Italian leagues, while Mendelsohn is on loan at Coventry (I think).

On a personal level I resigned from CSKA Moscow - morale was at an all time low as just about every player wanted to leave to join a bigger club. After a run of defeats I got in a strop and handed in my notice. Since then I've moved to Portugal with Sporting Lisbon.

I'll start going through the history of Luxembourg football (2006-2027) next week. It's an exciting ride http://community.sigames.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

30-05-2008, 02:53
Can you sey anything about Poland national team? Any successes or wonderkids?

30-05-2008, 03:02
Originally posted by Soviet:
Can you sey anything about Poland national team? Any successes or wonderkids?

No problem - I'll look tonight and give you an overview.

31-05-2008, 06:20
Originally posted by Soviet:
Can you sey anything about Poland national team? Any successes or wonderkids?

I am afraid Poland are not enjoying much success in my experiment. The team has only qualified for one major tournament - the 2018 World Cup - where they failed to progress beyond the group stage. They are currently ranked as the 38th best nation in the world.

The undoubted star of Polish football is Grzegorz Kowalski (CA:175,PA:184). He can play just about anywhere on the right hand side of the pitch and was recently signed by Manchester United for a whopping £39,000,000.

Profile (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Players/Kowalski_Profile.png)
Career Stats (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Players/Kowalski_Career.png)

If Poland had more players at Kowalski's standard they would be right up there, but sadly that is not the case. Kamil Krol (CA:141, PA:180) is a rising star playing for Roda JC in Holland, but there is precious little else coming through. There qualifying group for the 2030 World Cup contains both Holland and the Czech Republic and as such I expect them to miss out on qualification once again.

31-05-2008, 10:53
And Kowalski's not even trained in Polish club... Thanks for info http://community.sigames.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif.

02-06-2008, 04:09
The final two outfield players have now retired following the 2027/28 season...

Gustav Mendelsohn

Finally on to the fourth player snapped up by Lyon as a 17 year old, although his time at the French club was the shortest - just one and a half seasons and seven first team appearances. In January '08 Inter Milan picked him up for the bargain price of £4,000,000. From this point his career was essentially a mirror of Ruud Van Der Voss and as such was littered with a mind boggling array of league and cup winners medals. Mendelsohn was at Inter for 8 years - picking up the league title five times and the Champions League once. Then, in the same January transfer window that Real Madrid moved for Van Der Voss, they also chose to splash £40,000,000 on Mendelsohn. That brought the Spanish giants spending on Luxembourg internationals to a monumental £128,500,000 in the space of a single calendar year! It helped bring them the La Liga title 8 times over the course of the next 11 seasons so it was all money well spent in the long run. Mendelsohn, a combative defensive midfielder, was a stalwart of that championship winning side right up until the 2025/26 season. Rather than stagnate in the reserves Gustav was happy to be loaned out to extend his career. An excellent 2026/27 season in Italy with Livorno (where he was named in the Serie A team of the year) proved to be a fantastic swan song to his playing days. His final season in the game was spent at Leicester in the Premier League. However, he was unable to hold down a first team place with 'The Foxes' and despite helping Luxembourg qualify for the 2028 European Championships chose not to play - the 39 year old officially hanging up his boots a few days before the tournament began having made 173 international appearances and scoring 23 goals. I am glad to report that Mendelsohn will continue in the game and is currently looking for employment in the management arena. More will follow on that story.

Career Stats (Part 1) (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Mendelsohn_Career1.png)
Career Stats (Part 2) (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Mendelsohn_Career2.png)
Player Profile (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Mendelsohn_Profile1.png)

Laurent De Puniet

Laurent De Puniet could play right across the back four, or as holding midfielder and his versatility made him a prized asset for both country and numerous clubs throughout his career. After being picked up by Valenciennes in the French First League he was straight into the first team - 22 appearances for a professional club in his first season was more than any of his international counterparts. As such he attracted the interest of Chelsea who paid £3,000,000 after a single year in France. Chelsea then decided to give De Puniet more first team experience by loaning him to Aston Villa for the 2007/08 season and he duly impressed during 24 games for the Midlands club. Two more seasons followed in London, but no silverware was forthcoming. Consequently both player and club chose to go in different directions when Barcelona tabled a "too good to turn down" £42,000,000 bid for him in the Summer of 2010. Four and a half seasons at the Nou Camp followed playing alongside Sergio Cardenas. In that time De Puniet picked up winners medals for two La Liga titles and the Champions League in 2013. Half way into the 2014/15 season and with Real Madrid about to embark on a decade of unparalleled success he then chose a good time to leave Spain, joining Inter for £44,000,000. In his first full season with Inter they did the double and went on to win two further Serie A titles and the Champions league for a second time. However, De Puniet was clearly a lover of the game and during the evening of his career did not want to be tied down to long contracts at a club that could not guarantee him first team football. Thus, when his contract with Inter expired at the end of the 2022/23 season he chose not to renew and went on to play two seasons for Parma. Similarly when that contract came to an end he signed a similar deal with St. Etienne in France and was consecutively named in the First League Team of the Year. Finally for the 2027/28 he signed a one year contract with Modena in Serie B and played another full campaign. Consequently De Puniet had remained a first choice player for all the 8 clubs he represented over every season during his entire career - no other player from the original fifteen can make that claim and his total of 714 league appearances (with only 8 as a sub!) is a record none of the other outfield players came close to. He was even encouraged to extend his retirement date by a month by Andrei Kiriakov so that he could captain the Luxembourg team in the 2028 European Championships, bringing his final tally of international caps to 192 (with 3 goals scored). De Puniet was quite a player. Now we will see if can cut it as a manager.

Career Stats (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/De_Puniet_Career.png)
Player Profile (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/De_Puniet_Profile.png)

02-06-2008, 04:30
England won a tournament?

Mark Snellink
02-06-2008, 05:31
I just read the entire thing. Fantastic writing, love the story line. From the couple of profile shots I looked at it seems these guys have a lot to teach people, some stellar coaching stats.

3 Questions:

How did Holland do, did van der Sar go into management and how are ADO Den Haag doing?

02-06-2008, 05:58
Just read it all, great stuff!

Looking forward to hearing about Luxembourg's fortunes at the tournaments.

KUTGW http://community.sigames.com/customicons/icon14.gif

02-06-2008, 06:20
Originally posted by Mark Snellink:
I just read the entire thing. Fantastic writing, love the story line. From the couple of profile shots I looked at it seems these guys have a lot to teach people, some stellar coaching stats.

3 Questions:

How did Holland do, did van der Sar go into management and how are ADO Den Haag doing?

Yes I'm hoping that at least some of them replicate the success they enjoyed as players as they move into coaching. I think De Ferrari is the best placed - he has a Staff CA & PA of 170!

I'll do a recap of where they all are in the management game later this week.

Re: Holland and ADO Den Haag I'll overview that tonight. I don't think Van Der Saar went into coaching, but will confirm.

02-06-2008, 06:21
Originally posted by thezogsageordie:
England won a tournament?

You will have to wait and see http://community.sigames.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

02-06-2008, 06:21
Originally posted by Tomaldinho:
Just read it all, great stuff!

Looking forward to hearing about Luxembourg's fortunes at the tournaments.

KUTGW http://community.sigames.com/customicons/icon14.gif

Thanks. I've written up the first 5 years of Luxembourg's results and will post later today.

02-06-2008, 08:24
Given that Templemann and Kriek have probably got another season or two in them I'm going to start cracking on with the history of Luxembourg football ...

Luxembourg 2006

And so the story begins. A new unknown manager takes over a national team ranked 200th in the world with just a handful of wins in its entire history, and a Football Association who's only 'demand' is that the nation not be embarrassed too much. Add into the mix fifteen players available for selection with boundless potential and you have quite a cushy managerial number. Throughout my six year tenure I played almost exclusively with a 4-4-2 diamond formation. My usual starting formation was with Cooke, Van Der Voss, Ivanovic and Cardenhas at the back, Chernenko and De Ferrari on the wings, Mendelsohn as the holding midfielder, and either Zacharaev or Rico pushing forward. Santer and Friedrich were my starting strikers. Templemann and Kriek were rotated based on club form, De Puniet could cover for any injury in the defensive line, while Kiriakov was my super-sub up front. Kasparitis probably suffered most from my formation, often having to play out of position as an AMC, or on the rare occasions when I felt like tinkering with the tactics and playing an MC rather than a DM.

Debuts were made across the board in a 3-1 friendly defeat against Ivory Coast - a warm up for the Euro 2008 qualifying campaign to come. That campaign started at home against Holland and a 2-2 draw was a highly creditable result for the young team. Sadly, subsequent defeats away to Slovenia, and a 4-0 thumping by Bulgaria (Dimitar Berbatov bagging all four if I remember correctly!) put qualification in serious doubt.

2006 Results (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Luxembourg/Luxembourg-06.png)

Games: 4
Wins: 0
Draws: 1
Losses: 3
Goals For: 3
Goals Against: 10
Biggest Win: N/A
Biggest Defeat: 0-4 vs Bulgaria

Luxembourg 2007

The new year brought Luxembourg's first win under my management - a comfortable 3-1 friendly win over Georgia in March. To stand any chance of qualifying for Euro '08, however, they needed to start winning their group matches. Duly that first win came, beating Belarus 3-0 at home. A tough trip to Bucharest followed and so it proved going down 3-0 to table topping Romania. With 4 points from 5 games the chances of qualification was now looking incredibly remote, albeit not a mathematical impossibility. The youngsters would need to play out of their skins to recover. And recover they did. Six consecutive victories (without conceding a goal) followed, including revenge wins over Bulgaria and Romania in the penultimate group match. It meant that they now needed to travel to Holland, get the victory, and hope Romania lost. Unfortunately neither result materialised. The boys lost to Holland, and Romania won their final match. Despite a remarkable turnaround Luxembourg finished 3rd in a very tough group and failed to qualify for the Euro's. It might be worth noting at this point that the team hasn't repeated such a failure in 20 years since!

2007 Results (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Luxembourg/Luxembourg-07.png)

Games: 11 (record high)
Wins: 9 (record high)
Draws: 0 (record low)
Losses: 2 (record low)
Goals For: 23 (record high)
Goals Against: 6 (record low)
Biggest Win: 3-0 vs various
Biggest Defeat: 0-3 vs Romania

Luxembourg 2008

With the disappointment of missing out on the European Championships (eventually won by Spain by the way) behind them the team was soon embarking on a new campaign - trying to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. The players were now all 19 years of age and attracting the interest of Europe's premier clubs. After a couple of friendly victories, they started qualification in style with big wins over Poland, Belarus and Turkey. Three wins out of three without conceding a goal set them up superbly to go on and qualify next year for a major competition for the first time in Luxembourg's history. A rather inconsequential 2-1 home friendly defeat at the hands of Denmark followed in November. However, remember that date - 8th November 2008 - as I'll be referring to it again later. Four days later they destroyed Switzerland 6-0 in another friendly - a record victory at that time.

2008 Results (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Luxembourg/Luxembourg-08.png)

Games: 7
Wins: 6
Draws: 0
Losses: 1 (record low)
Goals For: 23
Goals Against: 2 (record low)
Biggest Win: 6-0 vs Switzerland (record)
Biggest Defeat: 1-2 vs Denmark

Luxembourg 2009

Confidence was high going into 2009 after an impressive set of recent results - Luxembourg were rapidly climbing up the world rankings and they looked in a great position to qualify for the World Cup. Two tough games against Spain would be a real acid test of how far they had progressed. First up they took on the Spaniards in Madrid and a highly entertaining 3-2 win was the outcome - the highest ranked team Luxembourg had ever beaten. Comfortable clean sheet victories over Hungary, Poland and Belarus followed and the team was as good as qualified with three games remaining. More laboured performances away in Istanbul, and at home to Hungary demonstrated that they could take no teams lightly, but the outcome was the same - 6 points. The final game against Spain in a packed Jose Barthel stadium was immaterial for the group had already been won. However, an emphatic 2-0 win meant Luxembourg had gone through the year with a 100% record and would be on their way to South Africa and a place in the 2010 World Cup Finals.

2009 Results (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Luxembourg/Luxembourg-09.png)

Games: 8
Wins: 8
Draws: 0
Losses: 0 (record low)
Goals For: 17
Goals Against: 4
Biggest Win: 3-0 vs Poland
Biggest Defeat: N/A

02-06-2008, 11:03
Originally posted by Mark Snellink:
I just read the entire thing. Fantastic writing, love the story line. From the couple of profile shots I looked at it seems these guys have a lot to teach people, some stellar coaching stats.

3 Questions:

How did Holland do, did van der Sar go into management and how are ADO Den Haag doing?


Holland are currently ranked 7th in the world, but have not had a major tournament success during this experiment. They have never failed to reach the finals of the European Championship, but have yet to progress beyond the Quarter Finals (which they've reached three times - 2008, 2016 and 2028).

Their World Cup performance is not as good having only qualified twice (2010 and 2026). They lost in the 2nd Round in 2010, but went all the way to the Semi Finals in 2026 - losing to England on penalties. They also lost the 3rd place playoff to Russia.

In Henry Schilder (CA:162, PA:188) and Theo de Jong (CA:172, PA:172) you have Holland's all time leading scorers (72 goals each), but both players are in the twilight of their careers - aged 32 and 33 respectively.

They have a number of other superb players. Goalkeeper Ozcan Zwarthoed has already reached his PA of 195 aged just 23 so has many years ahead of him, although he will be challenged by 17 year old Said de Jong (CA:120, PA:198) in the future. Holland are certainly not short of players between the sticks.

They have another megastar at AC Milan - attacking midfielder Jesper Van Leeuwen (CA:188, PA:188). He's usually partnered by Liverpool's Max Kuipers (CA:182, PA:194) in the centre of midfield and they make a formidable pairing.

Holding the record for most international caps is Edwin Van Der Sar (113), who I can confirm did not go into management.

ADO Den Haag

Your club couldn't have started much worse. Finishing bottom of the Dutch Premier Division by some distance in 2006/07 and were subsequently relegated. They managed to bounce straight back and had 2 mid table finishes, followed by two relegation battles. Sadly they fell back into First Division the following season (2012/2013). Again they spent just one season in the lower division before being promoted back up again. Since then they have enjoyed some stability - 13 consecutive seasons in the Premier Division - including 6 top 8 finishes and a best of 4th. They also lifted the Dutch Cup in 2026/27 beating NEC in the final. Their league finishes have been rewarded with 4 appearances in the UEFA Cup - a run to the First Knockout Round in 2022/23 their best achievement to date. Unfortunately it's been unlucky 13 for ADO Den Haag. Last season they finished 17th and were subsequently relegated in the play-offs.

Mark Snellink
02-06-2008, 16:10
Ooo, UEFA Cup footy for ADO http://community.sigames.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif

Cheers for the update http://community.sigames.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif I'm really enjoying this thread.

The Lambs
02-06-2008, 17:04
Very interesting write up, looking forward to the rest of it.

03-06-2008, 10:30
Luxembourg 2010

Going into the World Cup Luxembourg had climbed into the top 10 rankings of footballing nations - a friendly win over five time winners Brazil in March was an indicator that this team was capable of beating anyone. The players (now all aged 21) were all now playing at the top levels of club football and despite their comparitive lack of experience were not going to be afraid of anyone. However, their first World Cup group match was not particularly impressive. A clearly nervous team was lucky to get anything from the game against the United States - trailing 2-1 until the dying minutes before grabbing a last gasp equalizer. The teams youthful bravado was dented against a side they would have been expected to beat. A run of 11 straight wins had come to an end and an improvement would be required if they were to continue much further in the competition. Having been given a bit of kick up the backside by myself and the back room staff the boys made sure there was no complacency in the next two group games. Belgium was dispatched convincingly 5-1 before Peru got absolutely pummelled 11-0 by a team now hitting its full stride. Carsten Friedrich was scoring for fun at this stage. Luxembourg topped the group easily, but got a tough second round draw against three times winners, Germany. In a tense game with few chances neither team were able to break the other down inside 90 minutes and the game looked certain to be going to the lottery of penalties. To my delight, however, the team came through and stole the victory in the second period of extra time. The quarter finals drew us against Ghana and it turned out to be one of the most one sided games in the history of World Cup knock out competition. Ghana never really had a sniff and leaked nine unanswered goals to a rampant Luxembourg. Cameroon lined up in the semi finals, but they never looked like scoring and were lucky to keep the score down to 2-0. So Luxembourg had done it - playing in their first World Cup and they had reached the final. Standing in their way was a team already beaten twice in qualification for the tournament the previous year - Spain. The Spaniards started the brighter and took the lead midway through the first half. However, Luxembourg had equalized by half time and in the second half there was only one team in it - showing their superior skills and scoring 3 more unanswered goals to take a 4-1 win and lift the World Cup for the first time. At times the quality of the football played by Luxembourg was utterly sublime, and they set records for most team goals (34), biggest win (11-0 vs Peru), top Goalscorer (Friedrich, 9), most Assists (Chernenko, 7) and highest average rating (De Ferrari, 9.00) - records which last to this day! Inevitably the World Cup Dream Team was made up almost exclusively of the Luxembourg squad.

With the jubilation of winning the World Cup the team might have been excused for being a bit flat when qualification for Euro 2012 started just two months later. But not so - Slovakia and Lithuania brushed aside 2-0 and 6-0 respectively to end the year in style.

2010 Results (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Luxembourg/Luxembourg-10.png)

Games: 11
Wins: 10 (record high)
Draws: 1
Losses: 0
Goals For: 50 (record high)
Goals Against: 5
Biggest Win: 11-0 vs Peru (record high)
Biggest Defeat: N/A

Luxembourg 2011

As World Cup winners and newly installed as the number 1 ranked national side in the world it was clear that Luxembourg could no longer be considered underdogs. They were now expected to win every game and the expectations of the FA had risen exponentionally i.e. to qualify with ease for all major competitions and then compete for the top prize when they got there. Neither the players nor management let them down in 2011 as they produced another 100% unbeaten season, qualifying for the 2012 European Championships at a canter, scoring 27 goals in total (including the 8 scored at the tail end of 2010) and only conceding 3. Their last qualification group match against the Czech Republic was perhaps their most accomplished performance - few teams travel to Prague and come away with a 5-0 win!

2011 Results (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Luxembourg/Luxembourg-11.png)

Games: 9
Wins: 9
Draws: 0
Losses: 0
Goals For: 27
Goals Against: 5
Biggest Win: 5-0 vs Czech Republic
Biggest Defeat: N/A

Luxembourg 2012

Luxembourg would surely travel to the European Championships as won of the tournament favourites, although the bookmakers still had the more established nations with shorter odds. Their group consisted of Romania, England and Portugal and none were able to put up much of a fight against opponents who were faster, fitter, stronger and more skillful. It must have been pretty demoralising and 3-0 defeats were handed out to all and sundry. Their run through the knockout stages brought them into conflict with the three nations most people would likely pick out as the strongest in Europe in terms of major competition heritage. In the Quarter Finals Luxembourg faced 1998 World Cup and two time Euro winners, France. The result, a convincing 2-0 win. The Semi Finals paired Luxembourg with Germany - themselves three times winners of both the World Cup and European Championship and the team who had pushed Luxembourg closest in 2010. To their credit they became the first team to score against the superstar line-up, but couldn't prevent conceding 3, and consequently another major final had been reached by a team who were ranked 200th in the world just 6 years previously. In the final they faced Italy who's 2006 World Cup victory had seen them lift the trophy for the fourth time. However, even they were powerless against a Luxembourg side now justifying their hype as perhaps the best team to have ever graced the game, reversed emphatically 4-0. Critics were asking how Luxembourg could possibly be beaten given their possession of possibly the worlds best player in every position, with substitutes that could walk into any national side, and all still just 23 years of age. Even the famous 1970 Brazil side would surely have been no match for them on this form.

There wasn't going to be great deal of time to rest and after a short summer break the Luxembourg sqaud was soon called back into action for 2014 World Cup qualification in a group that contained Holland and would include a number of trips to Eastern Europe. A 4-0 home win over Estonia kicked things off nicely, and potentially tricky ties against Holland in Amsterdam and Serbia, in Belgrade, were also navigated successfully. Commercial reasons surely explained the trip out to the Qatar desert at the end of the year for a completely unnecessary fixture.

2012 Results (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Luxembourg/Luxembourg-12.png)

Games: 11
Wins: 11 (record high)
Draws: 0
Losses: 0
Goals For: 34
Goals Against: 3
Biggest Win: 5-1 vs Nigeria
Biggest Defeat: N/A

Luxembourg 2013

This year was going to be a busy won for the national side. Qualification for the World Cup needed to be sewn up and by virtue of their 2010 success the squad had also been entered in the Confederations Cup for the first time. By the time that tournament started in the Summer of 2013 Luxembourg had effectively wrapped up qualification. Latvia had their behinds handed to them in a 7-0 drubbing, and neither Hungary nor Estonia provided much opposition during a four day road trip taking in the picturesque cities of Budapest and Tallin.

With those games safely dealt with it was off to Spain for the Confederations Cup. In their group they would face South American champions Argentina, African Cup of Nations winners Nigeria, and New Zealand - holders of the Oceanic Championship. Argentina and Nigeria must have felt they had a shout if Luxembourg failed to turn up, but the Kiwis probably just wanted to keep the scoreline down to single figures! That was certainly a fair reflection - Argentina had never faced Luxembourg before and might have fancied their chances, but they were brushed aside 3-0. Next up was the New Zealanders and lets face it they never stood a chance, inevitably going down 10-0 in a typical David vs. Goliath encounter. Nigeria gave an excellent account of themselves in the final group game - beaten 2-1 but securing second place and would join Luxembourg in the Semi Finals. They would also give themselves an opportunity to gain immediate revenge, for while Luxembourg crushed hosts Spain 6-0 in the first semi, Nigeria overturned the United States to claim a deserved place in the final. The Confederations Cup Final provided another entertaining game between the two nations, but Nigeria's inability to breach the Luxembourg defence a second time and the shipping of two goals against meant it was three international trophies in a row for the worlds number one team.

It was then back to home turf for three of the four remaining World Cup qualification fixtures. Holland, Serbia and Hungary came. Holland, Serbia and Hungary returned with nothing! A final away win against Latvia wrapped up another 100% qualifying campaign with the team once again breaching the 50 goals scored in a calendar year barrier. Alarmingly, for the rest of the world at least, this team hadn't even peaked yet!

2013 Results (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Luxembourg/Luxembourg-13.png)

Games: 14 (record high)
Wins: 14 (record high)
Draws: 0
Losses: 0
Goals For: 57 (record high)
Goals Against: 3
Biggest Win: 10-0 vs New Zealand
Biggest Defeat: N/A

03-06-2008, 13:43
I like the fact that (by 2013 anyway) Luxembourg's latest defeat was against Denmark http://community.sigames.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_biggrin.gif

Great thread, KUTGW http://community.sigames.com/customicons/icon14.gif

04-06-2008, 11:22
Luxembourg 2014

So, on to another World Cup year and the opportunity for Luxembourg to become only the third team in history (and the first since 1962) to successfully defend the title. The group into which they were drawn looked fairly straightforward containing Algeria, Japan and Norway - teams that Luxembourg would be expected to beat easily. In reality it was harder work that many had foreseen. Algeria were dispatched 3-0 in the first game, but the Japanese provided surprisingly tough opposition with a single goal in Luxembourg's favour deciding the tie. That ensured qualification for the knockout round but to top the group they would still need to beat Norway who had also won their first two games. This was duly achieved with a professional, albeit unspectacular, 2-0 win.

Although Luxembourg had won their group without conceding a goal it was widely held opinion that they had done so without reaching top gear. There had to be more come. The second round drew them against Peru - the team beaten 11-0 in the 2010 competition. Surely they could only improve this time around. Well improve they did, but not by a great deal, reversed 6-0 and probably keen to never have to face Luxembourg ever again! The win secured a Quarter Final berth against Mexico who had, in Carlos Vela, one of the worlds best strikers (averaging a goal a game). However, even with Vela leading the line, Mexico were powerless to prevent Luxembourg's passage to the Semi Finals and went down to a 3-1 defeat. The semi's brought a match-up with 1966 winners England where World Cup hysteria had been reaching fever pitch upon reaching the last four. Sadly the hopes of a nation were about to be dashed once again. England were never in the game, going down 3-0 to a clinical Luxembourg performance.

As expected Luxembourg had won through into their second consecutive World Cup Final. On the other hand nobody would have predicted the opponents they faced. Norway, having finished second to Luxembourg in the group stages, had beaten Scotland, Ukraine, and Argentina to become the first Scandinavian team since Sweden in 1958 to reach the final. However, considering the team they now faced Norway's odds to lift the trophy were very long indeed. The final itself was a completely one sided affair. For 90 minutes Luxembourg pelted the Norway goal, dominated possession and territory, and looked by far the more accomplished team. A quick spin down the match stats revealed the extent of their domination. That is except for one particular column, and quite an important one at that - goals scored! Despite all that pressure Luxembourg failed to score. The Norwegian goalkeeper played the game of his life. To make this unbelievable story that little more extraordinary, in one of their rare forays forward the plucky Norwegians also managed to sneak a vital, ultimately match winning goal.

Against all the odds Norway had won the 2014 World Cup! In doing so they had ended Luxembourg's run of three tournament triumphs, 41 successive wins, and 52 games unbeaten (all international records by the way). That unbeaten run had extended over nearly 6 years (5 years, 7 months and 28 days to be precise) started after a friendly defeat against Denmark and it took another Scandinavian team to bring it to an end!

Even though I was given the full backing of the FA to carry on I decided that this defeat marked a good point to step down as Luxembourg manager and let somebody else have a go. My successor was Jeff Strasser, who prior to the influx of new talent had held the record for most caps in a Luxembourg jersey (71). His introduction to international management was a relaxing one, with comfortable wins coming against Azerbaijan and Albania as qualification for the 2016 European Championships kicked off.

2014 Results (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Luxembourg/Luxembourg-14.png)

Games: 10
Wins: 9
Draws: 0
Losses: 1
Goals For: 25
Goals Against: 2
Biggest Win: 6-0 vs New Zealand
Biggest Defeat: 0-1 vs Norway

Luxembourg 2015

When comparing Strasser's initial position to the one I had back in the Summer of 2006 he had both advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand he inhereted, on paper, the best team in the world. The players, now aged 26, were all now playing at their peak. On the other hand he was under intense media glare and had considerable expectations weighing on his shoulders. He certainly wouldn't be given any second chances if results didn't go his way.

That said Luxembourg had a very easy five team Euro 2016 qualifying group and there was little to test Strasser's management credentials. Switzerland, Austria, Albania and Azerbaijan all beaten home and away with seemingly consumate ease. Friendly wins over the Faroe Islands and Scotland maintained Strasser's 100% record to round out the year.

2015 Results (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Luxembourg/Luxembourg-15.png)

Games: 8
Wins: 8
Draws: 0
Losses: 0
Goals For: 27
Goals Against: 1 (record low)
Biggest Win: 5-0 vs Azerbaijan
Biggest Defeat: N/A

Luxembourg 2016

This was the year when the big tests would really come, and it would be make or break for Jeff Strasser. The Euro 2016 draw certainly hadn't been kind with Luxembourg lining up in the 'Group of Death' alongside Spain, Serbia and the Czech Republic. Their first game was against the Czech Republic and the result a rather disappointing 1-1 draw. A return to form in the second fixture saw Luxembourg run riot and put four goals past Serbia without reply. This result meant that qualification for the Quarter Finals was virtually assurred barring a disaster in the final match against Spain. They would need to lose to Spain while the Czech Republic would need to beat Serbia by a superior scoreline. However, that exact disaster very nearly materialised. The Spaniards showed the world that the Luxembourg players were human after all and ran out convincing 3-0 winners. In doing so they became the first team to score more than once against their opponents in nearly five years, and put them within an inch of elimination from the tournament. In the other game the Czechs led 3-0 going into the last quarter hour - another goal and they would be through. In the end a late Serbian consolation saved Luxembourg as they sneaked into the knockout phase on goal difference.

Suddenly teams fancied their chances again and the competition was blown wide open. First up Germany were given a chance to avenge their tournament defeats of 2010 and 2012. They couldn't - beaten 3-0 and sent home by Luxembourg for a third time in major competitions. Perhaps defeat to Spain had just been a temporary blip. It certainy seemed so when Turkey were brushed aside in the Semi Finals by the same scoreline. Subsequently, Luxembourg were into their fifth consecutive tournament final, and they were brought into confrontation with Spain once again (a repeat of the 2010 World Cup Final). The Spanish must have been confident going into the game as only two weeks previously they had completely outplayed their illustrious opponents. However, history over the last decade had proved that Luxembourg were incredibly well adept at bouncing back from a sub-standard performance (just ask the Peruvians!) and they approached the final with typical ruthlessness. The tables were well and truly turned as the Luxembourg team came through to record a 2-0 victory and become the first team to successfully defend the trophy.

Strasser and his Luxembourg team had, as predicted, won the 2016 European Championships, but they had survived a huge scare and been right on the brink of being eliminated in the group stages. Had they done so Strasser would certainly have lost his job after less than a year in the post. As it turned out he carried on for another five.

With another trophy in the cabinet Strasser took a confident team into the 2018 World Cup qualification campaign. Latvia and Switzerland were two teams who had bitter memories of playing Luxembourg and fortunes didn't improve after being thrashed 5-0 and 4-0 respectively. Then came the visit of Estonia, another team with a poor record, but few would have expected the scale of footballing anahialation about to be inflicted on them. Even the analogy "men against boys" doesn't really do this game justice - "men against insects" perhaps more appropriate. The final score at the Stade Jose Barthel, Luxembourg 18 Estonia 0! A number of players filled their boots in the game, none more so than Andrei Kiriakov who bagged a record five goals. Friendly wins over Ireland and Ghana got them up to 50 goals scored in a year for the third time.

2016 Results (http://i307.photobucket.com/albums/nn311/ktep/FM/Luxembourg/Luxembourg-16.png)

Games: 13
Wins: 11
Draws: 1
Losses: 1
Goals For: 50
Goals Against: 4
Biggest Win: 18-0 vs Estonia (record)
Biggest Defeat: 0-3 vs Spain