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Sophara United - Academy players only, for better or worse (The sequel to the Kafra series)


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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2048/49 – Quarter-Finals

ASTON VILLA vs. BURNLEY: An All-English affair for two of the Premier League’s rising teams, it was Aston Villa who took it after taking a 3-0 home victory and holding their opponents 0-0 in Burnley. Aston Villa’s cinderella run continued into the Semi-Finals as their first foray with Champions League football in over 40 years remained a success story having defeated juggernauts Bayern Munich in the Second Round. RESULT: Aston Villa 3 – 0 Burnley

TOTTENHAM vs. BORUSSIA DORTMUND: What was supposed to be a tight affair ended up being a dominating victory for the English side as they set up an all-English Semi-Finals with Aston Villa after running through their German opponents. They took a 3-1 win in Germany thanks to all three goals coming in the last 15 minutes, and then overran Dortmund in London with a resounding 5-1 win. Dortmund considered themselves in a good position to get to the Finals thanks to several big teams being knocked out early, but it was not to be as Tottenham, who were last in the Semi-Finals in 2042, set their sights towards the Finals at the Bernabeu in Madrid. RESULT: Tottenham 8 – 2 Borussia Dortmund

JUVENTUS vs. ZENIT: Zenit had not been in the Quarter-Finals phase in their history and unfortunately for them, they were up against one of the most decorated teams in the history of the competition. History won out as Juventus took a 3-1 victory at home before holding Zenit to a 1-1 draw in Russia. This was the first time Juventus were making the Semi-Finals since they lost to Atletico Madrid in 2037. RESULT: Juventus 4 – 2 Zenit

LEIPZIG vs. ROMA: The defending champions – who remain the outright favorites to defend their title – faced a tough time against their Serie A opponents. The first leg ended with a 1-1 draw in Rome and the return leg in Germany ended 4-3 for the hosts, but not after the Italians made life very difficult for what is probably the best offensive team in the game today. Leipzig would now meet Juventus in the Semi-Finals on their journey to defend their title. RESULT: Leipzig 5 – 4 Roma

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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2048/2049

 

TEAM REVIEW

A second straight Runners-Up position for Sophara United this year as Manchester United ran away with the title and had it wrapped up by the beginning of 2049. It was left to Sophara, Tottenham, and Burnley to compete for the 2nd Place with it going to Sophara at the end of it all. Ben Gibson had the best season of his career, winning the 2049 PL Footballer of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year, and Top Goalscorer (career-high 34 Goals) awards as well the Sophara United Player of the Year prize. The manager tinkered with the formation this season, deciding to play only one striker up front with a shadow striker behind him and two CMs behind the shadow striker. The motivation to do that was to tighten up the back and concede less goal, something which did happen as the club – the 55 Goals Conceded was a new record for the club in the Premier League as they finished as the 10th best defensive team in the PL. The 91 Goals Scored, while not the best they have achieved, was good enough to crown them the best offensive team, thanks to the exploits of Ben Gibson. Although they finished 15 Points behind the now two-time defending champions, Sophara United had now solidified its status as the second-best team in England. They were disappointing in the Champions League, however – after finishing 2nd in Group C behind defending champions Leipzig (ahead of Akhmat and Inter), they were knocked out in the Second Round by surprising Russian side Zenit. The FA Cup did not go any better, getting knocked out by Middlesbrough at home in the Fifth Round, while in the Carabao Cup it was a Third Round exit to Derby.

The manager let several young players go this season as he encouraged them to seek out teams that will guarantee them playing time. The idea was that Sophara developed them as well as it could and their talents were better suited for a lower level of football. Luther Chase left in a deal that could rise to over £9M, joining Brighton but not making his debut for them yet. Carl Davis left for £1.1M to Crystal Palace, while George Nichols left to Middlesbrough for a deal that could be worth £2.3M. Jacob Baise left for Swansea for £145K, while Charles Diallo and Tommy McVeigh left for Newcastle for just under £100K each. On the club front, there was additional investments in both Youth and Training Facilities so that they would remain state of the art and not get downgraded. 

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PREMIER LEAGUE REVIEW

Last season, the champions had only 2 Points between them and the Runners-Up. This season, the defending champions Manchester United (1st) put 15 Points between them and Sophara United (2nd), who finished as Runners-Up for the second consecutive season. Their striker Ben Gibson won the 2049 PL Footballer of the Year, Players’ Player of the Year, and Top Goalscorer awards after scoring a career-high 34 Goals – this was the 5th time he won the Top Goalscorer award, setting a new Premier League record and finally breaking the tie with Arsenal legend Thierry Henry. There was a battle for 2nd Place that lasted all season between Sophara, Burnley (3rd), and Tottenham (4th), who made the Champions League Finals for the 2nd time in their history only to lose to defending champions Leipzig on penalties in Madrid. Aston Villa (5th), who were Semi-Finalists in the CL this season, will have the Europa League too look forward to in 2049/50 along with Chelsea (6th), while Nottingham Forest (7th) booked a spot in the Europa League Conference despite just coming back up to the PL. Arsenal (8th) again were disappointing, missing out on Europe all together, while Liverpool (9th) showed no improvement much to the frustration of their rabid fan base. Bournemouth (18th) and Fulham (20th) both will be in the Championship next season after spending 7 and 8 years in the PL, respectively. Middlesbrough (19th) were the only newly promoted team to go back down, with Nottingham Forest and Watford (16th) both surviving, the former doing so in grand fashion.

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE REVIEW

From the beginning, Leipzig were the favorites to defend their title, and although Tottenham gave them a scare in the Finals at the Bernabeu in Madrid, the finally sealed their second consecutive title by defeating the English team on penalties. The champions had advanced to the Finals after knocking out Juventus in the Semi-Finals, while Tottenham had won their all-English affair against Aston Villa. Numerous traditional heavyweights were knocked out early, and the likes of Burnley, Zenit, and Tottenham in addition to Aston Villa were participants in the Quarter-Finals. Leipzig’s superstar forward Dietmar Mayer scored 13 Goals in his 13 Appearances while leading his club to their second straight title in a season where Real Madrid, Man United, Bayern Munich, and AC Milan all got knocked out in the Second Round.

 

Highlight on DIETMAR MAYER (RB Leipzig – Germany: 33 Caps/20 Goals): The world’s most valuable player continued his path to legend-hood despite his young age of 23, leading his club to their second straight Champions League title and third straight Bundesliga title. Born in Nuremberg, Germany in the suburb of Zirndorf in October of 2025, he joined the 1860 Munich youth system at the age of 13 in 2038 before getting snapped up by VfB Stuttgart in 2042. He made his debut for his new the club the following year, and during his time with the club, he won the 2045 German U19 Player of the Year as well as the 2045 Stuttgart Player of the Year. Unfortunately, that was the same season the club got relegated from the Bundesliga and after spending half a season in the Bundesliga II, he was sold to Leipzig for £43.5M, who were then under the management of Italian manager Giuseppe De Feudis (Bundesliga title: 2041, ’47 – Champions League title: 2045) who spent 7 years with the club until 2047. It was at Leipzig that his career took off and credit goes to his former manager for getting the best out of him. Used as a winger in Stuttgart, De Feudis shifted him to a more all-out attacking role and he immediately saw the benefit – in 15 Games during the 2046/47 season, Mayer scored 12 Goals and registered 7.57 AR. His ascension to the top of the footballing world happened in 2046/47, his first full season with Leipzig, as he had a phenomenal season (29 Apps, 22 Goals, 13 Assists, 11 PoMs, 8.00 AR), winning his first Cap for Germany and being named the 2046 World U21 Footballer of the Year, getting crowned Bundesliga champions, winning the Bundesliga Top Goalscorer and Leipzig Player of the Year awards as well as breaking his club’s record with 13 PoMs in a season. The 2047/48 season, under new American manager Tyler Adams, was a continuation of his ascension as he was Runner-Up in all the major world awards and ended the season as the 2048 German Footballer of the Year – that season, he won his 2nd Bundesliga title and his first Champions League trophy. Although Germany exited in the Quarter-Finals of France 2048, Mayer captured the European Championship’s Best Young Player award and ended the year as the newly crowned (and current) World Golden Ball, World Footballer of the Year, and World Player of the Year winner.

In his short career with Leipzig, he has won the club’s Player of the Year award 3 times and this season, he broke the club’s record with 34 Total Goals, leading the club to their 2nd straight Champions League title while winning the competition’s Golden Boot and Forward of the Season awards. His out-going and media-friendly personality has made him a fan favorite wherever he goes and one would be hard-pressed to find his combination of speed and power in football today. He has no known weakness – he is as good in the air as he is with the ball at his feet – and is unquestionably the biggest star in world football today. Given his young age, many believe that the best is yet to come and he now has his eyes set on winning a major international trophy with his home nation, the only thing that is missing from his incredible portfolio thus far.

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GOALKEEPERS

 One of the top three highest valued GKs in the world, Chris Davies (’40 – Wales: 72 Caps), who is 24, had another strong season as the club finished in 2nd Place for the second consecutive year. For the fourth straight season, he played in all 38 Games, registering 1.45 Con/90, a career-high 11 Clean Sheets, and 7.26 AR. Even though his career average is 7.42 AR, his dip in AR this season can be attributed with being less busy than usual as Sophara’s defense improved to 10th best in the Premier League. Wales made the Second Round of France 2048 last summer with Davies as the starting GK although he has yet to impress at a major stage of international football. At the club level, however, one would be hard-pressed to find a more gifted GK – he won the 2048 Welsh Footballer of the Year award, becoming the first GK to capture it in its history. He was also named in the 2049 Premier League Select for the 3rd time and the 2nd consecutive season and many experts have now given him the title of being the best GK in the PL, one that Man United’s legendary Spanish GK Ximo had for many years. He has now played in 206 League Games for the club and was rewarded with a new contract that will pay him £325K per week at the end of the season as his value has now eclipsed £50M.

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FULLBACKS

Since Sophara United’s inception in 2020 as a club, never have its full-backs both finished with 7.00 AR averages in the same season until this year. At RB, Chris Parry (’39 – Wales: 13 Caps) had a career-best season, playing in 35 Games and registering 2 Assists, 2 PoMs, 3.37 TpG, 88% Pass Completion, and a career-high 7.01 AR, a significant improvement over last season and his career average of 6.82 AR. He is a somewhat underrated member of the team give the 26 year old’s consistency and durability and despite being rated as a ‘Championship-level RB’, he has done for himself and the club in the Premier League. What he lacks in ball control and technique he makes up for with speed and strong defensive awareness as he rarely makes costly mistakes. He will be extending his contract for a further 5 years this summer while still being paid the same (£105K per week), further solidifying the trust his manager has in him and his ability.

Parry had a new partner at LB this season as 20 year old Nikos Dimosthenous (’44) took over starting duties from Pablo Cobo, playing in 33 Games. He did well, registering 2 Goals, 2.90 TpG, 89% Pass Completion, and 7.00 AR, which was higher than Cobo ever recorded. Once considered a ‘Wonderkid’ with a 5/5 PA rating, the hype around him has eased significantly since he exited his teenage years – today, he is considered a ‘Championship-level’ player who has potential to be up to the PL level in the future. The main problem the Sophara coaching staff have complained about has been his lack of development over the past couple of years, with some even saying that he might be playing at his full potential already. The U21 English international has not convinced the Sophara United coaching staff that he is a long-term answer at full-back, and the manager has hinted that he might have the position be more rotational than it was this season, but Dimosthenous should be the default starter at LB come next season.

Despite playing in a career-low 17 Games this season, Pablo Cobo (’38) – who has been the club’s starter at LB since his rookie year in 3038/39 – had perhaps the biggest season of his life. Towards the end of the year, Cobo became the second Sophara United player, after Wayne Breen, to officially come out as gay, a huge personal milestone for the 27 year old Spanish left-back. On the pitch, he continued to do well when called upon, registering 6.90 AR and 2 Assists as he approaches 350 League Games for the club – he is at 341 Games currently. The manager has hinted that he may revert back to Cobo more often next season has Dimosthenous did not leave the coaching staff convinced. On the other wise, backing up Parry was 19 year old Simon Richardson (’46), who completed his 3rd season having played in a total of 20 Games (11 this season) so far. He has impressed, registering 2.52 TpG, 88% Pass Completion, and 6.87 AR, and has the ability to play as CD, as well, giving the club that extra versatility that is always needed. A hard-working, driven individual, Richardson is going to be in line for more playing time come next season, especially as he showed significant improvement from his exposure to first-team football this year.

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CENTRAL DEFENDERS

The assumption is that it is only a matter of time before Lionel Wilkins (’42) gets his first England call-up, especially as the 23 year old delivered his finest season to date this year. In 35 Games, the CD registered 1.66 TpG, 90% Pass Completion, and a career-high 7.11 AR, the first time he has hit a 7.00+ AR average. The club’s full-time starter at CD for the past 3 years, he has now also become the club’s best defender on the squad as well as one of the better players at his position in the Premier League. He is a smart player with great defensive instincts that are well complimented by his strength and power, reminding many of Chelsea legend John Terry from the early part of the century. He differs in that he doesn’t have Terry’s natural leadership abilities but the £30M valued defender has much of the same presence and play style on the pitch, albeit perhaps with a bit more speed. Wilkins has become a favorite of his manager thanks to his dedication, hard-work, and team-first mentality and looks set to be a starter for the club at the position for a very long time.

Alongside Wilkins was club veteran and legend Wayne Breen (’33 – Ireland: 101 Caps/3 Goals), who surpassed 100 Caps for his nation of Ireland this season. The 31 year old CD also had the best season of his career for Sophara this year, registering 1.63 TpG and a career-high 6.95 AR in 35 Games. He is now 29 Games away from hitting the magical 500 League Games number, with a career average of 6.83 AR that does not really do justice to just how important he has been for the club over the past decade. He has not played in less than 32 Games per season for the past 10 years now and has now completed his 16th season with the club. A member of Sophara’s First Golden Generation, the club’s Vice-Captain has been a model professional and a role model for the younger players throughout his career. Although he is no longer considered the best player across the defensive line after the emergence of Wilkins, he is still the leader at the back and one of the most influential players in the club’s history.

The past few seasons have seen a lack of prospects and talent behind the starters but there might be hope on the way in the form of 17 year old Trinbagonian Ryan Noray (’48), who played in 2 Games during his rookie year. He is considered a similar type of player to Wilkins by scouting reports and although he has been known to have somewhat of a fickle personality, he has been open and friendly with the media. Born in San Fernando on the island of Trinidad, he joined the Sophara United Youth Academy at the age of 13 and made his debut for the club at the age of 16. Already strong in the air thanks to his 1.90 meters height, he has a lot to work on before he can be of Premier League standard but so far his progress has been good.

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CENTRAL/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

It was not an easy season for all players on the squad that play in the middle of the pitch as the manager experimented with 3 different formations with each focused on different positions/jobs in the middle of the pitch. The one player whose focus and position did not change was Anthony Wise (’43 – Northern Ireland: 49 Caps/15 Goals), who continued to be the target of many of the world’s biggest clubs. The attention has unsettled him, going as far as to publicly announce his frustration at not being allowed to talk to other clubs, something which affected his form throughout the season. He has become known for starting seasons very strong only to tailor off in the last couple of months, and the same thing happened this year. He still had a good season, playing in all 38 Games for the first time in his career and registering 11 Goals, 11 Assists, 3 PoMs, and 7.08 AR, but it was a drop from last season when he recorded 7.15 AR. He doesn’t seem fully focused with the team, but the manager insisted he has no plans to ever sell the 22 year old star, who remains one of the Premier League’s most recognizable players. His performance at France 2048 did not live up to his Euros debut – at Greece 2044, he scored twice in 3 games but failed to find the net last summer.

No one has been asked as many different things throughout his career on the squad as Eoin Hastings (’38 – England: 27 Caps/4 Goals), who once again had to adjust to a new role in the center of the pitch. The 26 year old did not have his best season but it wasn’t bad, either – in 33 Games (tied for a career-high), he registered a career-high 4 Assists, 3.46 TpG, 88% Pass Completion, and 6.82 AR, down from 6.88 AR last season. He has become one of his manager’s favorite players thanks to his high work rate and professionalism and is known around the club as a silent leader. A very smart player, what he lacks in attacking skills he more than makes up for it defending the opposing attack and has been the source of many successful counter-attacks Sophara has unleashed. His strength is definitely in his defensive abilities and awareness and the manager has sought to maximize that by putting him in an anchorman role with defensive duties. He has become a full-fledged member of the England national setup and won the European Championship title for the first time in the nation’s history last summer at France 2048.

Alongside/in front of Hastings was Chavez Straker (’44 – England: 1 Cap), who himself earned his first England call-up this past season. He played in 36 Games (29 Starts), registering 2 Goals, a career-high 14 Assists, and 6.81 AR, a small improvement from the 6.80 AR he recorded last season. Recognizing his immense passing abilities, the manager put him in a playmaker role that fully utilized his talents, resulting in the 14 Assists that elevated his game and reputation in the eyes of the experts. It obviously got him noticed, as he made his debut for England against Holland at the age of 20. The PL’s Young Player of the Month for March, his value is now above £30M having just turned 21 at the tail-end of the season. He is considered a smart and professional player, but there have been legit concerns about his consistency, something that he needs to address as he becomes an important member of the first team.

Arinze Mbah (’28 – Nigeria: 95 Caps/5 Goals), who had left the club last summer, was brought back into the picture after failing to find a team to join in January, finishing his career with the only club he has ever known. He has played a total of 570 League Games for the club, breaking his own record as its oldest ever player. He only played in 2 Games, and will now venture into the field of coaching with the manager strongly considering giving him his first job as an U18 coach with the club. The primary backup for Hastings and Straker was also a Nigerian – 18 year old Ibrahim Udoka (’47) made his debut this season and played in 10 Games (3 Starts), registering 6.77 AR. He can play as CD or as a CM with his best talents focused around his ball control – he is known to have an exceptional first touch as well as strong passing abilities.

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WINGERS

There can be no doubt about Tyler Craig (’36 – England: 55 Caps/13 Goals) and his status within the club, not after this season. He has become a legend in every sense of the word as he set a career-high with 7.24 AR – this was the 4th season in a row he breaks his own career-high record. In 36 Games, he registered 12 Goals, 14 Assists (down from his record-tying 21 Assists last season), a career-high 4 PoMs to go along with his 7.24 AR. The formerly underrated and underappreciated star has now taken his place among the world’s elite wingers and is recognized finally as a global superstar. Now 28 and entering the prime of his career, he is considered an ‘Elite’ player by the media and has become one of England’s most valuable members – this was the same player that was overlooked 3 and 7 years ago at Japan 2046 and Russia 2042, respectively. He was, however, a member of the team that captured the European Championship title for the first time ever at France 2048 last summer. One of the greatest passers of his generation, he has knack for delivering seemingly impossible passes, turning slow play into a horror show of an attack for opposing defenders utilizing Gibson and Bayliss’ speed. A highly technical player, his football IQ is what gives him that extra edge as he sees opportunities that not everyone does – in short, he is a creator. Add to that the fact that he is actually quite good in front of the goal and you have a winger that has become one of the best without having been one of the quickest or fastest. It used to be that Craig was considered the second best winger on the team – now, not only is he the best winger on the squad but he is amongst the best globally.

Before Craig took that extra step to becoming a Tier-1 star, Kurtis Thompson (’35 – Wales: 88 Caps/47 Goals) was known to be the star winger of Sophara United. This is no slight against Thompson, who remains a star player in his own right, but injuries have just not allowed the 30 year old Welsh left winger to truly live up to what was tantalizing potential. Although he started the season out with a groin strain, this was one of his cleaner seasons in terms of injuries, playing 32 Games – his 2nd highest total in the past 8 years. He had a good season in general, scoring 12 Goals (his 3rd straight season with at least 12 Goals), although his 6 Assists were the lowest he has registered since the 2038/39 season, which was 11 years ago. His 7.05 AR was down from 7.16 AR the last 2 seasons, a far cry from his peak of 7.50 AR during the 2041/42 season. Still an outstanding player on his good days, he has a knack for scoring important goals and but remains inconsistent in his performances during big matches. Other than his durability, he has no real weakness and if he can manage to continue to remain healthy, the next 2-3 seasons should be some of his best.

Behind the starters are two young African prospects, with Guinean right winger Boubacar Bangoura (’46) being the older one at 19. He played in 11 Games (0 Starts), registering 6.80 AR and generally doing a decent job when called upon. The Sophara United staff don’t seem to be so high on his potential as when he first came out of the Youth Academy, but he has gotten better and seems to be happy with his position and playing time in general. Senegalese left winger Papa Gueye (’47) completed his rookie season with the club this year, playing in 9 Games (1 Start) and registering 2 Assists and 6.77 AR. He announced himself to the world with a beautiful goal against Barcelona last season, becoming the Champions League youngest ever goalscorer and he is already a big part of the Senegalese U20 set up despite only turning 17 in March. While some experts have their doubts about how high his ceiling is, his manager seems to believe in his potential and has mentioned he is excited in seeing just how good Gueye can become.  

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FORWARDS

Synonymous not only with Sophara United for the past decade, Ben Gibson (’34 – England: 122 Caps/91 Goals) is now an England legend thanks to the title they won at France 2048. His name is now mentioned alongside that of Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, and Wayne Rooney amongst many others – he is one of the rare players that led his nation to a major trophy as they captured the European Championship for the first time in their history. He followed that up with his best season of his career – in 35 Games, he scored a career-high 34 Goals along with 6 Assists, 10 PoMs, and equaled his career-high with 7.47 AR. Now 30, he captured the PL Top Goalscorer award for a record 5th time, having done so for the first time in 2040. He won the PL Footballer of the Year for the 3rd time, equaling Erling Haaland (2024, ’28, ’29) and Thierry Henry (2003, ’04, ’06) for most times won. He was named to his 6th Premier League Select Team of the Year and won the Sophara United Player of the Year for the 8th time while coming in 2nd in the 2049 World Footballer of the Year and World Golden Ball awards to Leipzig star Dietmar Mayer. In 530 League Games, he has scored an incredible 383 Goals and if he keeps up the same form, he will cross into 400 Goals Scored territory by the middle of the coming season. The greatest player in Sophara United history, Gibson – and his manager – are looking for that first Premier League title, an accolade that will complete what is turning out to be one of the greatest careers of all-time of any player. This was the 7th season in his career (out of 15 seasons) that he scored 30+ Goals, an incredible number considering no one has even come close to that. He has been Captain of the club for the past 10 years and Captain of England for the past 6 years, and at the beginning of the season he became Sophara United’s all-time league goalscorer after eclipsing 353 Goals. There is simply no substitute for him or his genius on the pitch and now that he has crossed 30 years of age, the reality that he might not be around for too much longer is starting to set in.

Through no fault of his own, former PL Top Goalscorer Niall Bayliss (’37 – England: 2 Caps) was relegated to a rotational role this season, playing in 29 Games (12 Starts), registering only 6 Goals, 7 Assists, and 6.97 AR. The reason for that was the manager, who decided to stack up the middle of the pitch this season and play with only one striker up front as opposed to two. What it means for the 28 year old going forward – especially as there are 2 very talented prospects who also have proved themselves worthy of playing time – is anyone’s guess, but thus far Bayliss has not announced his unhappiness or hinted at it. Also vying for playing time up front is Hugo Good (’44), who with every passing season is looking less like a winger and more like a forward. The 20 year old scored 5 Goals and registered 6 Assists and a career-high 7.04 AR in 30 Games (9 Starts) this season, adding a different type of game focused more on technical and aerial ability up front as opposed to power and quickness. One of the most hyped players to come out of the Academy this decade, he hasn’t turned out to be the world-class player (so far) that the Sophara staff hoped he would become, but he remains an intriguing and talented prospect nonetheless. The most exciting attacking prospect currently at the club, however, is Foster Dave (’47), with the 17 year old playing in 14 Games (2 Starts) and registering 4 Goals, 3 Assists, and 7.06 AR. Everyone at the club is very excited about Dave, especially considering how fast he has improved his skills over the course of the past 2 seasons. The assumption is that he will cut into Bayliss’ playing time at the striker position, although he is able to play down the right-wing as well. He has a real chance to crack the rotation next season if he continues his impressive training rate and form on the pitch.

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END OF SEASON REVIEW

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LOOKING BACK - YOUTH CLASS 2034

From the club’s inception up until the 2033, it was widely considered the ’33 Youth Class – which brought in players such as Jishua Tyrell and Arinze Mbah – was the best. That lasted only one year because the ’34 Youth Class netted out the greatest player in the history of club, Ben Gibson, as well as former PL Footballer of the Year and one of the finest GKs in Europe during the late 2030s and early 2040s in Carl Jones. While there was not much else to consider outside of those two save for some players who have decent careers in the lower leagues, Gibson and Jones are enough to propel the 2034 Youth Intake into the top position for greatest Intakes in club history up until this point. Henry Stewart showed potential but never worked out, although he did end up having a long career. 

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BEN GIBSON (England: 125 Caps/92 Goals) – SOPHARA UNITED

ALSO PLAYED FOR: N/A

CAREER OVERVIEW

Not only is Ben Gibson the greatest player in club history, he has also staked his claim in the past two seasons as perhaps the greatest English player of all-time. The megastar striker has been on top of the footballing world for close to a decade now and has shown no signs of slowing down – he is perhaps the greatest single reason Sophara United is ranked as the 6th best team in Europe today. Born in Croydon in the Greater London area of England in June of 2018, he was picked up by the Sophara Youth Academy at the age of 12 in 2030. His debut would come in 2034 against Swansea City and soon after he would break the Championship record for youngest player to score in a match by netting his first goal against Ipswich at the age 15 years and 302 days. Although he would spend the next two years as part of the rotation and not a full-time starter, his 10 Goals and 12 Assists were big factors during the club’s title-winning campaign in 3035/36 when they lifted the Championship trophy and earned their promotion to the Premier League.

His first season as a starter was at the age of 18 during the club’s first season in the Premier League, and he immediately left an impression on the league, netting 16 Goals as the club survived and never looked back. A year later, at the age of 19, he would win his first Cap and score his first Goal for England while registering the first of his 12 straight seasons thus far with 20 or more Goals. It was the 2038/39 season, however, that would launch Gibson into the superstar tier – it was the first of his incredible 5 seasons in a row where he would score at least 30 Goals, capturing his first Sophara United Player of the Year award (currently has 8 total) as well the 2039 English Young Player of the Year award. On the back of such an impressive season along with his positive influence in the locker-room, the manager would name him Vice-Captain of the club at the tender age of 21. At the end of 2039, he would become the second player after Kieran Christie in 2036 to win the World U21 Footballer of the Year award.

As the 2040s came around, Ben Gibson was now one of the premier young players around the world on back of his incredible 2038/39 season. The following year was even better – he captured the 2040 PL Top Goalscorer award for the first time (he has now won it a record 5 times), was named the 2040 European Golden Shoe recipient for the first time (now a total of 4 times), and was promoted to being Sophara United’s Captain, a position he has kept ever since. Recognizing his leadership ability and his dominant stamp on the game on the pitch, he was named England’s Vice-Captain, as well. His streak of excellence continued over the course of the next few years, as he would capture the Premier League Footballer of the Year (2041, ’45, ’49), the Best Player in Europe award (2043, ’45, ’46, ’47, ’49), and would lead England to 2nd Place in the 2041 European International League.

Having been one of the Premier League’s top players in the early parts of the 2040s, Gibson would take his talents to the biggest stage in club football after the club finished in 4th Place during the 2041/42 season – the Champions League. During a magical run that ended in the Quarter-Finals against Bayern Munich, Gibson was a star at the highest level, winning the first of his two Champions League Golden Boots (9 Goals in 2043, 13 Goals in 2047) and the first of his three Champions League Forward of the Season (2043, ’45, ’47), and would end 2043 by winning the first of his three Goal 50 awards (2043, ’45, ’47). He would also be named as Runner-Up in the World Golden Ball and World Footballer of the Year award, something which would happen again in 2049. The club and Gibson’s first foray into Champions League football catapulted both of them to world-wide fame and Gibson’s introductory season at this level would become a benchmark for all first timers.

In 2044, he was finally named England’s Captain, but perhaps his greatest contribution to his national team came in the late 2040s. At the European Championship at France 2048, Gibson would lead England to their first ever European title, defeating Scotland in Paris to give his nation their biggest prize since winning the World Cup in 1966. The same year, he would lead England to their 3rd European International League Finals (previously in 2025 and 2041) and would end up lifting that trophy for the first time in their history in 2049, stamping his legend-hood for both club and nation as the 2050s started to beckon. A few names will inevitably come to define the 2040s and Ben Gibson is definitely at the top of that list. Sophara’s greatest star and England’s hero, Ben Gibson has been a once in a lifetime generational talent.

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CARL JONES (England: 13 Caps) – ATLETICO MADRID

ALSO PLAYED FOR: Sophara United

CAREER OVERVIEW

The man that replaced Mark Connor – this is perhaps Carl Jones’ biggest claim to fame amongst the Sophara United supporters. Once considered the brightest GK prospect in England, his career has taken a downturn since leaving the club in January 2045 under somewhat strange circumstances. Born in Retford, England east of Sheffield in August of 2018, he joined the Sophara Youth Academy the same time Ben Gibson did in 2030. He helped lead the Sophara U18s to 3 consecutive English U18 Division 3 titles between 2034 and 2036 and was Mark Connor’s primary backup during their Championship title win of 2036.

As the early 2040s approached, it was becoming clear that Jones’ talents far outweighed Sophara (and Premier League) legend Mark Connor’s own, despite the latter having become the first GK in the PL era to win the league’s Footballer of the Year award, doing so in back-to-back seasons in 2037 and 2038. In 2039, the manager introduced a rotational system at GK in order to give Jones more playing time, and by the beginning of the 2040/41 season, Jones had become the club’s full-time starter. He would instantly become one of the best GKs in the league and would follow Mark Connor’s lead by capturing the PL Footballer of the Year award in 2043, the same year he would earn his first Cap for England. He was seemingly on top of the world at the age of 25, but karma had plans for him.

Just as Jones came up through the Youth Academy and usurped the PL Footballer of the Year of his starting job, the same was to be done to Jones. Chris Davies (Sophara’s current starting GK) would earn himself a rotational role in the squad for the same reason as Jones a few years earlier – Davies has a higher ceiling and seemingly more talent than Jones, becoming Wales starting GK at the tender age of 17. Jones, however, would not wait around as Connor did before him – at the beginning of the 2044/45 season, while still being the club’s defacto starter at GK, he shocked everyone with a transfer request, stating he was unwilling to share playing time and saw that the future belonged to Davies. It was a strange and difficult request to meet but given the relationship he had developed with his manager at time, the entire process ended up being cordial as Jones was sold in January 2045 to Atletico Madrid for £18M.

Unfortunately, things have not turned out the way he wanted in Spain. Despite an impressive first season and a half in the Spanish capital, Jones lost his starting place to Colombian Sebastian Gutierrez and has been a bit player for the past 3 seasons. He is still only 30 so a lot of football remains to be played, but his career has hit an all-time low currently. Still, he was one of the stars of the Premier League in the early and mid-2040s and can still turn things around to end his career on a high should he move on to a club that will play him as their starter.

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OTHER NOTABLE PLAYERS

The one thing that the ’33 Youth Class had that the ’34 Class didn’t was numerous international players. Outside of Gibson and Jones, only Henry Stewart (New Zealand: 27 Caps) and Logan Fenton (54 Caps/5 Goals) appeared in international football and both played for New Zealand. The latter has won the Oceania Nations Cup twice (2040, ’44) and was an important player for League Two side Woking throughout the 2040s. Stewart was Fenton’s teammate on the Oceania Nations Cup 2044 title winning New Zealand side, and won the Welsh Premier League with TNS in 2046. Chace Bettinelli has bounced around the lower leagues as a bit player – he has played with 8 different teams over his career, not including loans, but has never managed to impress or become an important rotational player for any. Thomas Fowler left the club in 2037 and since then he has played with 3 different teams in the Vanarama leagues with the latest being Weston-super-Mare, although he has failed to register an appearance for them in the last 3 years. Robbie Miller is currently at Scottish lower league side Nairn, playing a starter and doing well. He actually had to really good seasons at Maidenhead after he left Sophara in 2041 before heading to Scotland.

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5 hours ago, deltablue said:

Samura look like he could be great.

I agree, he looks like he could be something good for us. Just need to get those Physical and Speed attributes up. 

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I have never received a bid so large. I don't know what is happening with Leipzig - they are coming off a Bundesliga and a Champions League title but sold their best player Dietmar Mayer for less than £100M and have been harassing me about Wise.

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20 hours ago, abulezz said:

I have never received a bid so large. I don't know what is happening with Leipzig - they are coming off a Bundesliga and a Champions League title but sold their best player Dietmar Mayer for less than £100M and have been harassing me about Wise.

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:eek:

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14 hours ago, TelcontarTargaryen said:

I hope you rejected it. 

Of course! He's unhappy and his form has suffered to start off the season but I don't need the money and he is one of my best players. Definite rejection. 

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Atletico Madrid is not going to be a fun tie, at least not on paper. They have won the Champions League title twice (2033, '37) and have been Runners-Up 5 times (1974, 2014, '16, '35, '46) and are currently in 2nd Place in the La Liga, having been one of their strongest teams over the past several years. Ben Gibson continues to be the ultimate goalscoring machine in the tournament, a reputation he has earned over the past decade. 

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Posted (edited)

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2049/50 – Second Round Results

The two-time defending champions Leipzig ran through Tottenham 6-1 to set up the definite match of the Quarter-Finals with Real Madrid, who had a tough challenge but ultimately defeated Roma. Not only is the tie the biggest in terms of names and prestige, but the additional drama of seeing Dietmar Mayer playing against his former team is sure intrigue all types of fans. FC Porto pulled off the surprise of the Second Round by defeating Serie A heavyweights AC Milan, who were dark horses to go far. Bayern Munich will be their Quarter-Finals opponents after the German side took care of last year's surprise Quarter-Finalists Burnley. Sophara United, led by goalscoring leader Ben Gibson, did very well against Atletico Madrid, winning the home leg in emphatic fashion with a 5-1 result. They will meet their 2048 Quarter-Finals opponents Barcelona, with the La Liga defending champions and current leaders winning an exciting tie against Borussia Dortmund. The only other English team to make it past the Second Round was two-time defending Premier League champions Manchester United - the 2048 beaten Finalists made short work of Lazio to set up a relatively easy tie on paper against Greek side PAOK, who defeated surprising Ligue 1 side Nice.

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Edited by abulezz
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Just now, Cardiovascular said:

Some great progress being made since I last checked in! Congratulations. Is the title within sight do you feel?

Not yet - we are too weak at the back and our midfield play seems to have too many flaws and inconsistent form. 

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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2049/2050

 

TEAM REVIEW

For the first time in quite a few years, it felt like Sophara United took a step back. The form was inconsistent, a lot of players did not progress as expected, there was some tension and drama in the locker-room (mostly concerning Anthony Wise), and the team was not clicking on the pitch during long stretches of a lot of games. The worst run was around December and January – by the time the Second Round of the Champions League rolled around, Sophara United were already out of the running for a Premier League title. After finishing in 2nd Place the last two seasons, the team dropped back down to 4th Place, behind new champions Arsenal, old champions Man United, and Chelsea. Despite that, Ben Gibson had a record-breaking season – he set a new Premier League record with 41 Goals and registered a career-high 7.50 AR. He became the first Sophara player in history to capture the World Golden Ball and World Footballer of the Year awards, also becoming the first player in Premier League history to win its Footballer of the Year award 4 times – he also broke his own record as he won the PL Top Goalscorer award for a record 6th time. The offense, which had scored 91 Goals last season after scoring 100+ in 3 consecutive seasons from 2045 to 2048, dropped down to 82 Goals Scored (2nd in PL), its lowest amount since the 2039/40 season when they finished in 8th Place. The defense got slightly better (8th in PL), conceding 53 as opposed to the 55 from last year – this was the second least amount of goals the squad had conceded since entering the Premier League in 2036. The manager has been tinkering with his formations over the course of the last two seasons trying to find the best match for his team but the word out of the Sophara clubhouse is that he is still not satisfied with the results.

In the Champions League, the team that Sophara defeated in 2048 as they made their first (and thus far only) Semi-Finals appearance was the same team that knocked them out of the Quarter-Finals this time around. That team was Barcelona, who ended up reaching the Finals in St. Petersburg, Russia. Gibson would win the CL Golden Boot award with 11 Goals for the 3rd time. The squad, however, were a no-show in domestic cup competitions, getting knocked out early in both the FA Cup and Carabao Cup. The team also released and sold a number of players – including some that have been part of the rotation over the last few years – as they had become surplus to requirements and/or not good enough for the first team.

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PREMIER LEAGUE REVIEW

There was no more dominant team in the world than Arsenal (1st) from the mid-2030s until the mid-2040s, but the London based club had fallen off in recent times. Not so this season, however, as they ended the decade/started the 2050s in grand fashion, grabbing their first Premier League title in 6 years. The former two-time defending champions, Manchester United (2nd), could not make it 3 in a row, while the Runners-Up over the last two seasons Sophara United (4th) dropped a couple of spots despite 2050 Footballer of the Year (for a record 6th time) and Top Goalscorer Ben Gibson setting a new PL record with 41 Goals. Chelsea (3rd) had their best finish in 4 years and will be excited to be back in the Champions League next year after a 3 year absence. Two of the teams that qualified for the CL last season – Tottenham (5th) and Burnley (7th) – will have to settle for Europa League action next season, along with Liverpool (6th), who improved 3 spots and will be back in action on the continent after a 3 year absence. It seems like a lifetime ago that Liverpool captured the Premier League title, but they actually are just 3 years removed from their 2047 win. Southampton (20th) spent only a year in the Championship but the newly promoted team were definitely not ready to come back up to the PL this season, registering only 19 Points. They will be joined by Watford (18th) and Reading (19th) – this was the former’s 2nd season in the PL this time around and the latter’s 3rd season. Newly promoted Swansea (13th) and Blackburn (17th) both survived their first seasons back in the Premier League, with Swansea being especially impressive.

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE REVIEW

The loss of Dietmar Mayer was supposed to have implications of Leipzig, especially in the Champions League. Not only did the now three-time defending champions dismantle Mayer’s new team in the Quarter-Finals – they were Real Madrid and the now four-time defending Bundesliga champions ran through them 5-2 over both legs – but also ran through their domestic rivals Bayern Munich in the Semi-Finals before convincingly taking care of Barcelona 3-0 in the Finals in St. Petersburg, Russia. This was Barcelona’s first Finals in 20 years – they were last seen at this stage making back to back Finals in 2030 and 2031, both ending in losses to the dominant team of that time, Manchester City – having defeated Premier League teams Sophara United and Manchester United in the Quarter-Finals and Semi-Finals, respectively. Man United were one of the favorites to win it all but were stopped by the Spanish side. Ben Gibson of Sophara United again showcased why he was the greatest CL scorer of this generation – and possibly of all-time – leading the tournament with 11 Goals despite getting knocked out in the Quarter-Finals. PAOK, the Greek champions and a team that never seems to be able to get past the Group Stages, made a nice run to the Quarter-Finals before being defeated by Man United.

Highlight on DAME MANE (Leipzig – France: 63 Caps): At £60M, Dame Mane is the world’s most valuable GK and considered the planet’s most talented player at the position. The French GK, 26, won the Champions League GK of the Season for the 3rd consecutive season and 4th time overall, now second only to Man City and Italy legend Gianluigi Donnarumma (2014 to 2039). Born in Vauvert, France, situated east of Montpelier in the south where he started his career at the age 16 in 2040. He was part of the French team that advanced to the Finals of the U20 World Cup in Uruguay, losing to rivals England in Montevideo. After Montpellier were relegated at the end of the 2042/43 season, Leipzig scooped him up for £24M and he would earn his first Cap for France shortly after. Since joining the German side 6 years ago, Mane has become the world’s best between the sticks. He has won the Bundesliga and Champions League titles each 4 times and lifted the Olympic Games title at Doha 2048, winning the competition’s Best GK award. The current World GK of the Year has won it twice (2047, ’49) and has become recognized as one of Leipzig’s most important players during their most impressive run in their history. A major international tournament with the French main team still alludes him but he will have a chance to right that at Brazil 2050 this summer as France is considered one of the favorites to win the tournament.

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GOALKEEPERS

A world-class GK in every sense of the word, Chris Davies (’40 – Wales: 82 Caps) has become one the club’s most important players. He had another exceptional season, playing in every game for the 5th straight year and registering a career-high 5 PoMs. His 7.32 AR was an improvement over last year and Davies, now 25, will be heading to the World Cup at Brazil 2050 with his teammate Kurtis Thompson to represent Wales. A star in the Premier League, it has been his performances in the Champions League that has brought the attention of the world on him and many will be excited to see how he performs in his first World Cup. He is a fans’ favorite who has shown great love and loyalty to the club while developing into one of the club’s all-time stars. Out of all the talented GKs the Sophara Youth Academy turned outs in the 2030s and early 2040s, Davies has proven to be the best in terms of raw talent. While many will argue that Mark Connor continues to be the club’s most influential and greatest GK of all-time, none can logically compare the team in terms of actual talent. He is one of the highest valued GKs in the world at £50M.

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FULLBACKS

Chris Parry (’39 – Wales: 13 Caps) had his second straight 7.01 AR season, making the lack of call-up to the Welsh World Cup squad even more perplexing. He has proven to be a capable Premier League right-back over the past 2 years while becoming of the leader’s on his team. Parry, now 27, continues to frustrate opposition with his speed and quickness, but he has also developed defensively, registering 3.61 TpG this season. Reliable delivering the ball out of the back, he registered 89% Pass Completion in his 31 Appearances. Although there might have been question marks about his long term hold on the starting RB position, those have been shelved as he has proven to be Sophara’s defensive line’s most in form player along with Lionel Wilkins.

At LB, Nikos Dimosthenous (’44), 21, regressed in form a bit this season, although it was still decent. His 6.93 AR was down from a career-high 7.00 AR last year, but he did register a career-high 5 Assists to go along with 2.99 TpG and 89% Pass Completion in 33 Appearances, He has not developed the way many in the club would have hoped – a few years ago Dimosthenous looked like he could become of the league’s premier LBs, but his defensive awareness has not improved and he has not gotten stronger as he got older. Not many consider him to be of a Premier League level but he continues to get the job done for Sophara because he has high football IQ and tries hard to get involved on the pitch. The talk continues to be about trying to unearth a more talented LB through the Youth Academy while some even suggest that perhaps former starter Pablo Cobo (’38) should be slotted back in the lineup, so there is pressure of Dimosthenous to perform come next season.

Although he also covers CD, Simon Richardson (’46) primary role of covering RB continued to showcase his improving abilities as he played in a career-high 21 Games (10 Starts). He struggled at times but Richardson, 20, is definitely being groomed for the future. His defensive skills continue to get better and although – unlike Parry – he isn’t blessed with speed and quickness, his football IQ is very high for a player of any age let alone one that had just left his teenage years. He will sign a new contract – his first since his rookie contract – that will pay him £22K per week, proof that his manager and coaches have belief that Richardson is capable of becoming the player they predict he can be.

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CENTRAL DEFENDERS

Not only was there no World Cup call-up, Lionel Wilkins (’42) has still not earned his first Cap for England as the voices grow louder to give the CD a chance. Now 24 and fully developed as a player and physically, he had to deal with his first injury-plagued season as he only played in 24 Games, although most of them came in the second of the season with Wilkins registering a respectable 7.07 AR. Known as one of the strongest defenders in the Premier League, he has been strong on the continent as well against other styles of attack and players. He was rewarded with a new contract early in the summer that will pay him £110K per week for the next 5 years, a just prize for a player that has proven to be perhaps Sophara’s best defender in any position. He is the only CD in club history to have over 7.00+ AR in the professional leagues.

Wayne Breen (’33 – Ireland: 107 Caps/3 Goals) continued to age gracefully, playing in 36 Games and registering 6.94 AR. He announced his retirement from international football late last summer, ending a legendary career with Ireland that spanned throughout the latter part of the 2030s and the 2040s that saw him compete in countless international tournaments, including the World Cup. Now 32, he did show signs of regression in terms of strength and quickness but his experience continued to be an invaluable asset on the pitch. As essential member of the First Golden Generation and a club legend, he eclipsed 500 League Games this season and is now up to 507 with 6.84 AR for his career. Without question the club’s greatest CD of all-time.

There are two prospects that could be in line to replace Breen in the starting lineup, and both have shown to have the potential to become good Premier League defenders. Ryan Noray (’48), 18, played in 6 Games this season, his second full one with the club. His progress has been good although he does seem to have a fickle personality – in any case, he committed to the club at the end of the season, signing a new contract as he tries to prove he is the right choice to replace the Irish legend. He is strong in the air and his defensive skills and awareness continues to improve but he remains weak with the ball at his feet. Rookie Abdul Samura (’49) played in 4 Games and showed high defensive awareness – the skills are obviously there but he surprised many by showing poise and maturity beyond his years at the back. He is not strong in the air like Noray, but he is a better defender despite still needed a lot of physical development. He is young being only 17 so that will hopefully come in time.

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CENTRAL/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

Subject to an insane £184M bid from three-time defending Champions League and four-time defending Bundesliga champions Leipzig, Anthony Wise (’43 – Northern Ireland: 58 Caps/17 Goals) publicly voiced his unhappiness at his manager’s decision to reject it and did so throughout the season. His manager remains unfazed, however, stating that the only way Wise will leave the club is on Free after his contract expires while encouraging him to sign a new contract that would allow him to be the foundation of the club’s next generation of stars. His form suffered and this was his first season over the past four that he failed to register at least 7.00 AR. With all that said, he did play in every game for the second straight season, registering 8 Goals, 11 Assists, and 6.97 AR. Still only 23, he has now played in 249 League Games for the club over his career, one that started with him being put in the first eleven right off the bat during his rookie season. Described as a ‘Midfield Orchestrator’, his passing ability is second to none and his fantastic goals in the Champions League has earned him fans all over the world. The two-time NxGn winner (2045, ’46), Wise scored his first goal for the club against Juventus in the CL in 2043 and has developed into his nation’s most important and famous footballer. His manager remains convinced that Sophara United is the right place for him and vowed to continue to try to get Wise to sign a new contract that will keep him at the only club he has known.

While three Sophara players will be representing the club with England at Brazil 2050, Eoin Hastings (’38 – England: 33 Caps/4 Goals) will not be one of them. One of the more surprising snubs, Hastings is said to have been devastated to miss out on going to the World Cup, although he did not have such a great season this year. In 35 Games, he registered 2 Assists, 2.35 TpG, 90% Pass Completion, but only 6.84 AR as his form was sometimes inconsistent. The biggest knack on Hastings has been his inability to sometimes get involved in the match, fading from relevancy for long periods on the pitch. That does not take away from the fact that most times, Hastings is active and a player that makes things happen, especially defending the counter-attack. He will never be the best going forward but he doesn’t make mistakes with the ball and is impeccable with his decision-making and timing. Equally comfortable playing as CD, Hastings, 27, is entering the prime of his career and is heavily relied upon by his manager.

After what looked to be a breakout season last year, Chavez Straker (’44 – England: 3 Caps) was one of the CMs that beat out Hastings for a spot in England’s World Cup squad despite regressing significantly in form this year. After delivering a career-high 14 Assists last season, he only had 6 Assists this year as his form plummeted from 6.81 AR to 6.69 AR. There is no denying his ability, his skills, or his footballing intelligence, but he seems lost in the club’s rotation, much like Jishua Tyrell before him. He is not a goalscoring threat as he only had 1 Goal this season, but more is expected of him as a playmaker in the middle of the pitch. His talent outshines almost anyone on the team and his skills with the ball at his feet are close to perfect, now he just needs to put it together and make the magic happen. He is still young at 22 and taking the example of club legend Arinze Mbah – who developed late to become one of the club’s greatest players of all-time – there is positivity around the club about him figuring it out and becoming one of the league’s best CMs.

Rookie Allan Ferrier (’49), who is 17 and won’t turn 18 until September, has already become the first choice CM off the bench, playing in 6 Games this season. Yet another highly technical midfielder turned out by the Sophara Youth Academy – Anthony Wise, Jishua Tyrell, Chavez Straker are all similar in technical skills – Ferrier showed good growth as has been labelled the next Paul Gascoigne by the media, playing in a similar style with similar flair. There is a lot of interest to see how he will do in his second season as many clubs are monitoring his progress. He has replaced Nigerian Ibrahim Udoka (’47), who is still 19, as the primary backup at the position – Udoka only appeared in 4 Games this season, all as a substitute. Also possessing good technical skills, the Nigerian CM was assured by his manager that he planned on making him part of the rotation in the upcoming seasons.

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WINGERS

This was not the best season for Sophara United’s wingers this year with both club legends at both flanks having down seasons. Tyler Craig (’36 – England: 62 Caps/14 Goals), the greatest passer in the Premier League today, had 12 Assists, a far cry from his record-tying 21 Assists from two years ago. He still had a good season – 36 Appearances, 3 Goals, 12 Assists, 3 PoMs, 7.01 AR – but his 3 Goals and 7.01 AR were down from 12 Goals and 7.24 AR last season. All the same, he was one of the 3 Sophara players to be going to Brazil 2050 with England along with Chavez Straker and Ben Gibson. Craig, who is 29, has yet to sign a new contract with the club even though it expires next year – there are rumors the RW and club legend is demanding £550K per week to stay with Sophara. Not many think he will leave and the expectation is that the two parties will iron it out sometime this summer – he is one of the club’s best players of all-time and has been the Premier League’s top distributor and passer for the last few years in part thanks to a friendly system his manager has in place for his wingers. He is now at 170 Assists for his career, getting closer to one of the rarest clubs in football today – the 200+ Assists club, a legendary status for someone who is fast becoming a Premier League legend.

One of the five players heading to Brazil 2050 is Kurtis Thompson (’35 – Wales: 99 Caps/54 Goals), who has been one of the most high-profile players for Wales during the 2040s. His career never truly materialized to its full potential because of all the injuries a now, at the age of 31, it seems to be catching up with him. He had his poorest season since 2039 – his 6.86 AR comes after three years of registering 7.00+ AR. From 12 Goals last season he dropped down to 5 Goals this year, managing to equal last season’s 6 Assists, however. His speed, once his primary weapon, is starting to show signs of disappearing and although he probably still ranks amongst the most talented LWs in the Premier League, the coaching staff at the club are concerned about his health going forward. He has had a wonderful career (439 League Apps, 120 Goals, 127 Assists, 7.00 AR) and will go down as one the club’s best all-time players – he will definitely be considered a legend for both club and country.

Backing up Thompson over the last two seasons has been Senegalese LW Papa Gueye (’48), who just completed his second season with the club playing in 8 Games (1 Start). He has been a bit of a polarizing prospect – some think he has the potential to be a star given his advanced technical skills and quickness, while others believe he doesn’t have the natural instinct and ability to be successful at the Premier League level. He has a 3.5/5 PA but the manager has reiterated that he thinks Gueye has star potential. He won his first U20 Cap with Senegal at the age of 16 – he is currently 18 and won’t turn 19 until March of next year. Backing up Craig was mostly Foster Dave (’47), who found playing time easier to find at RW than it was at the FW position. There is no doubt that Dave is a natural striker and that is where he has to play down the line, but he did well for the club backing up both positions. Dave, still only 18, played in a career-high 26 Games, registering 7 Goals, 8 Assists, and 7.06 AR – also all career-highs. Unlike Gueye, there is no debate about how good Dave can become – it is almost unanimous that he has Premier League star ability if he continues to develop at this pace. He has a number of experts excited about his potential and his value now exceeds £25M despite his young age.

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FORWARDS

It has been an incredible last couple of seasons for Sophara United’s greatest of all-time, Ben Gibson (’34 – England: 132 Caps/97 Goals). He led England to their first ever European Championship title at France 2048 then smashed a bunch of club and Premier League records this season at the age of 31. At the turn of the year, he was named the 2049 Golden Ball, World Footballer of the Year, and World Player of the Year as he was also named to a starter in the 2049 World Team of the Year for the first time in his career. He was then named the 2050 PL Footballer of the Year for a record 4th time (2041, ’45, ’49, ’50), winning it for the second consecutive season. He also won the 2050 PL Top Goalscorer award for a record 6th time (2040, ’41, ’43, ’45, ’49, ’50) as he broke Arsenal and Germany legend Nikola Cvijovic’s six year old record by scoring an incredible 41 Goals this season. He broke Sophara United’s record for most overall goals scored in a season with 59 Goals while also winning the 2050 Champions League Golden Boot award for the 3rd time (2043, ’47, ’50) as well as the competition’s Forward of the Season award for a record 4th time (2043, ’45, ’47, ’50), proving to be the CL’s ultimate goalscorer of the 2040s. He tied Kylian Mbappe’s record by capturing the Best Player in Europe award for the 6th time (2043, ’45, ’46, ’47, ’49, ’50) and equaled Mark Connor’s record with his 9th Sophara United Player of the Year award. One of the 3 players going with England to Brazil 2050, he is the captain of his nation and quite possibly its greatest player of all-time. He is 5 Goals away from equaling Nathan Riley’s (2022 to 2041) incredible 102 Goals for England, a record no one thought would be broken. The only missing from his trophy cabinet is a Premier League and/or Champions League title but on an individual level, the 2040s have known no better player than the Sophara striker.

Playing the last couple of seasons as the club’s lone striker up top, Gibson has thrived but it has been playing time scarce behind him. Former Premier League and Champions League Top Goalscorer recipient Niall Bayliss (’37 – England: 2 Caps) has been the hardest hit, as he only played in 26 Games (9 Starts) this season, registering 6 Goals and 6.90 AR. It is unclear if Bayliss will stay at the club past the summer – he is entering the prime of his career at 29 and with his main weapon being his speed, the time is ticking on getting a fair deal for him or finding him a club that will give him the playing time he wants. Also backing up the FW and LW positions is Hugo Good (’44), who despite being a serviceable player has not lived up to the billing of Sophara’s next big thing, a moniker given to him when he first graduated from the Sophara Youth Academy. He played in a career-high 35 Games (13 Starts), registering 7 Goals, 4 Assists, and 6.92 AR, down from 7.04 AR last season. He was given a new contract at the end of the season and with Thompson looking like age is starting to catch up to him, Good might see expanded work at the LW position next season.

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END OF SEASON REVIEW

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BRAZIL 2050 – WORLD CUP

INTRO/GROUP STAGES

Five Sophara United players head to Brazil to represent their nations at the World Cup – three with England (Ben Gibson, Tyler Craig, and Chavez Straker) and two with Wales (Kurtis Thompson and Craig Davies). The defending champions Italy are looking to tie Brazil’s record of 7 titles become the first team since Brazil in 1958 and 1962 – the days of Pele - to win back-to-back titles. The German team have a tsunami of attacking options led by Real Madrid superstar Dietmar Mayer, while traditional juggernauts such as France, Spain, Argentina, and newly crowned European champions England all favoring their chances. The hosts Brazil, who were beaten in the Finals at Japan 2046 by the Italians, are perhaps the bookkeepers favorite to lift the trophy, however.

The tournament got off to an entertaining start – during the first few days, Belgium defeated Syria 10-2 while Romania ran through Peru 6-0. Ukraine, one of the dark horses of the tournament, held Argentina to a 2-2 draw. Ben Gibson got off the mark in England’s 4-0 victory of Surinam with Straker and Craig both playing, while Kurtis Thompson also scored in Wales emphatic 5-0 win over Iran – former Sophara United midfielder and current Feyenoord player Jason Anderson, 25, hit a brace for the Welsh team, as well. This was Thompson’s 100th Cap for Wales, cementing his status as one of the nation’s greatest players of all-time. Argentina’s struggles continued during the second round of matches with Canada holding them to a draw. Wales qualified to the Second Round with a second victory, this time against South Africa, as Davies would register a Clean Sheet in their 1-0 victory, while Ben Gibson moved to just 2 Goals away from breaking Nathan Riley’s record of 102 Goals, scoring his 100th Goal for England as he registered a brace and PoM in their 2-0 win over Tunisia. Both Holland and Germany qualified to the Second Round in grand fashion – the Dutch stormed to a 10-0 victory over Haiti while the Germans defeated Saudi Arabia 6-0 behind a brace and PoM performance from Mayer. The biggest casualty for the Group Stages was perhaps South Korea – a team that made the Quarter-Finals two times in a row in 2030 and 2034 and which advanced to the Semi-Finals in 2002 – who failed to get past Austria and Trinidad & Tobago.

 

SECOND ROUND

The Second Round kicked off with hosts Brazil taking a 4-0 victory over Trinidad & Tobago, who had 2 players sent off in the match…..Serbia defeated Denmark 2-1 with country and club legend Branko Veselinovic – who plays for Hamburg – scoring a brace in his 110th Cap…..Austria continued their impressive run with a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic…..The USA took a surprising 2-0 win over Uruguay as they netted 2 Goals in extra-time with the match initially ending 0-0 after 90 minutes…..Mexico brought their total number of goals in the tournament to 9 with convincing 2-0 victory over Algeria…..The shock of the round went to Croatia, who defeated the defending champions Italy relatively easily 2-0, setting the stage for a new champion to be crowned…..Spain almost went the way of their Italian neighbors but pulled off a tough 1-0 victory against China…..It took Romania penalties to finally defeat Chile after the match ended 0-0, which meant that the Eastern European nation had yet to concede a goal in the tournament thus far…..The second shock of the Second Round happened when Belgium destroyed Argentina 6-2, as the South Americans were one of the favorites for the title…..Germany would have liked better than a 1-0 victory over Australia but advanced to the Third Round at the expense of the island-nation…..Ghana continued a run of bad performances by African nations as they succumbed to Ukraine 1-0…..Despite a good showing in the Group Stages, Holland saw their tournament end earlier than they would have liked after Colombia took a 3-1 win against them…..The 2042 title winners Portugal continued Africa’s miserable showing at Brazil 2050 with a big 4-1 victory over South Africa…..Ben Gibson scored England’s only goal in their 1-0 victory over Nigeria, advancing to the Third Round after a tough match…..Cameroon were the African continent’s only representatives in the Third Round after taking a 1-0 win against Wales, spelling the end of the tournament for Sophara’s Chris Davies and Kurtis Thompson, the latter playing in possibly is last major international tournament…..France defeated former colony Surinam 5-0 in the final match of the Second Round, registering their 3rd Clean Sheet in the tournament thus far while scoring 8 Goals.

 

THIRD ROUND

The hosts Brazil continued their strong form as they defeated Serbia 3-0, scoring their 13th Goal of the tournament across their 4 Games and conceding only 1 Goal so far…..Austria advanced to the Quarter-Finals for the first time in almost 100 years, defeating the USA 3-2 with 23 year old HB China Fortune RW Hans-Peter Disler scoring two goals with two minutes of each other in the 22nd and 23rd minutes of the match…..The team that defeated the defending champions, Croatia, were stopped by Spain who won by penalty shoot-out after the match ended in a 1-1 draw. Since losing to Brazil at Qatar 2022 – which was their second straight Finals appearance after they lost to France at Russia 2018 – the Croatian side have failed to advance past the Third Round. Spain, on the other hand, were looking to make their 4th Semi-Finals appearance in their last 5 tournaments…..Led by a hat-trick from 32 year old Bristol City striker Josue Arroyo, it was Mexico who finally overcame their hump and advanced to the Quarter-Finals for the first time since 1986 at the expense of Romania, whom the defeated 4-0…..One of the experts’ favorite dark-horse selections, the Ukraine caused the upset of the round by defeating heavily favored Germany 1-0. Despite what was being touted as potentially one of the most dangerous attack force in recent memory, the Germans failed to score a single goal – the last time the German side advanced past the Third Round was at South Africa 2038, where they lifted the trophy after defeating Brazil in the Finals…..Belgium advanced to the Quarter-Finals for the first time since 2034 after defeating Colombia 3-2, with the South Americans playing attractive but flawed football as they continued to fail to advance past the Third Round once since Brazil 2014…..France knocked out the last African participant in Cameroon, defeating them 2-0 as they continued keeping a Clean Sheet in all of their matches at Brazil 2050 thus far…..It was Portugal won defeated the current European champions England in the final match of the Third Round, doing so in dramatic fashion. A late 91st minute goal equalized the match for Portugal, who then went on to score the winner in their 2-1 victory after Daniel Sanha, the 29 year old Atletico Madrid CM, converted a penalty shot into a goal in the 105th minute.

 

QUARTER-FINALS

AUSTRIA vs. MEXICO: The Austrians were making their first Quarter-Finals appearance in nearly 100 years while Mexico had not made this stage since 1986 on home soil and had never made it past it in their history. That would end as Mexico would defeat the Austrians 2-1 in Belo Horizonte in a hotly contested match, setting up a match with either Belgium or France in the Semi-Finals. RESULT: Mexico 2 – 1 Austria

BRAZIL vs. SPAIN: Having made 3 of the past 4 World Cup Finals – losing 2 of them but winning at South Korea 2034 as they defeated Spain – the Brazilians were perhaps the favorites to repeat their Finals appearance. Spain, who were knocked out in the Semi-Finals by eventual champions Italy at Japan 2046, have also been one of the strongest teams in the competition this decade, lifting the trophy for the only time at South Africa 2010. This was easily the most anticipated match-up for the Quarter-Finals as these two heavyweights of the World Cup collided at the legendary Maracana in Rio de Janeiro. It took every ounce the Brazilians had in them but they pulled it off in front of their home fans in extra-time, taking the match 3-2 and knocking out Spain in the process. The Brazilians advanced to the Semi-Finals for the 4th time in the past 5 World Cups, continuing to be the bane in the side of the Spanish national team. RESULT: Brazil 3 – 2 Spain

UKRAINE vs. PORTUGAL: Advancing to the Quarter-Finals for the 3rd time in their history, Ukraine had never made it past this stage before. Portugal lifted the World Cup for the first time in their history at Russia 2042 but lost in the Third Round to Spain at Japan 2046, so they were looking to bring back glory to their shores at the expense of the Eastern European nation. It went successfully for the Portuguese as they pulled off convincing 2-0 victory, lining up a Semi-Finals date with hosts and rivals Brazil in the Semi-Finals. RESULT: Portugal 2 – 0 Ukraine

BELGIUM vs. FRANCE: The last time Belgium made the Semi-Finals it was at Russia 2018 and they lost to France. Since then, they had not advanced past the Quarter-Finals but after defeating Argentina 6-2 and a strong Colombian side 3-2 in the previous rounds, Belgium’s confidence was high. France lifted the World Cup trophy for the 2nd time in their history at Russia 2018 when they defeated Belgium, but since then have not been back in the Finals. Despite taking a 2-0 lead early in the first half, Belgium could not hold on and conceded 3 second half goals as France stormed back to take the match 3-2. Their best player thus far, Real Madrid’s 31 year old RW Guy Leroy, scored his 4th Goal at Brazil 2050, bringing his form up to 8.07 AR, one of the most impressive at the tournament. RESULT: France 3 – 2 Belgium

 

SEMI-FINALS & FINALS

BRAZIL vs. PORTUGAL: The most decorated team in World Cup history with 7 titles, the hosts Brazil had never met the Portuguese at this stage of the competition. With their eyes firmly set on title number 8 and looking to avenge the humiliation they faced last time they hosted the tournament, Brazil were led by the best player in the tournament thus far in Inter Milan’s 31 year old attacking midfielder Vanderson, who was leading the World Cup with 8.36 AR to go along with 5 Goals, 2 Assists, and 4 PoMs from 5 Games. The Portuguese did not have any stand-out performers but had yet to draw or lose a single match, scoring 15 Goals and conceding only 2 in their 5 matches thus far. In what ended up being perhaps one of the most dramatic finishing in World Cup history, an incredible 4 goals were scored after the 90th minute in what was a frantic finish to the match. At the 90th minute, the match was tied up at 2-2 when Wolves star striker Antonio Sequeira netted his 2nd goal of the game to give Portugal the lead and then one minute later the Portuguese struck again to the dismay of the Brazilians fans. Brazil managed to get one back and provide a glimmer of hope in the 5th minute of additional time, but Portugal was not having it and a few seconds later, scored the final goal of the match to win it 5-3 and knock the hosts out. Portugal were heading to their 2nd Finals appearance in their last 3 tries, having won the title at Russia 2042 after beating Uruguay. RESULT: Portugal 5 – 3 Brazil

MEXICO vs. FRANCE: Participating in their first ever Semi-Finals matchup, they were led by FC Lorient’s Santiago Nunez, who was leading the tournament with 6 Assists to go along with 7.72 AR. Many had commented that on Mexico’s run to this stage the toughest opponent they had faced was Austria but they had won all their matches up until this point. As for France, they had been one of the most impressive teams thus far, scoring 13 Goals and conceding their first 2 against Belgium in the Quarter-Finals. Despite being heavily favored, the French succumbed to an inspired Mexican side 2-1 with their hero from the Third Round and best player Josue Arroyo scoring the game’s first goal and bringing his total to 6 Goals in 6 Games. Mexico was heading to their first ever Finals against Portugal with a great chance of finally lifting their first ever World Cup trophy.

 

FINALS & AWARDS

MEXICO vs. PORTUGAL: This was Mexico’s first trip to the Finals in their history, going up against the Russia 2042 winners in Portugal. The Portuguese had made the Finals only once before and were looking to win the World Cup title for the 2nd time in their history, overcoming the likes of the hosts Brazil and European champions England to get to this point. With both teams overly cautious not to make any mistakes, the first goal did not until the 71st minute when Mexico hit the Portuguese through a devastating counterattack. The match blew open after that with Portugal going on a full offensive – they replied back in the 77th minute before scoring four minutes later to take the lead. They would break Mexico’s heart with a last second goal to seal the match for extra measure, defeating the North American side 3-1 to claim their second title.

AWARDS: Brazilian attacking midfielder Vanderson would capture the tournament’s Best Player award after registering 5 Goals, 2 Assists, an incredible 4 PoMs, and 8.02 AR in his 6 Appearances as the hosts reached the Semi-Finals before falling to France in the Third Place Playoff. His performance in the tournament was one of the finest individual performances in recent history, perhaps the best since Samuel Grant’s epic tournament for Germany in 2038. The Best GK award went to France’s Dame Mane, a deserving prize for a player who is without question the finest at his position in the world. His performances at Brazil 2050 left no doubt about that, registering 5 Clean Sheets in his 7 Appearances. The Golden Boot went to Belgium’s Leon Rosseel, who netted 7 Goals in his 5 Appearances. The Lazio striker, 25, registered three straight braces in the Group Stages and Second Round matches before scoring his final goal of the tournament against Colombia in the Third Round. Finally, the Best Young Player award went to American Wayne Silva, as the 20 year old Freiburg striker introduced himself to the world by scoring 5 Goals in 4 Appearances, registering a fantastic 8.05 AR as well.

 

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LOOKING BACK - YOUTH CLASS 2035

This was a relatively shallow and weak Youth Class with the exception of one name – Kurtis Thompson. The left winger ended up being one of Sophara United’s greatest ever players and definitely its greatest ever left winger, a distinction he takes without anyone being remotely close to him. An essential member of the club’s First Golden Generation which became on the Premier League’s finest teams in the late 2030s and 2040s, Thompson’s career – as great as it has been – was derailed by his proneness to injury. The only other player who ended up being an international is Jake Ansell, who has earned over 100 Caps for Gibraltar over the course of his career.

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KURTIS THOMPSON (Wales: 102 Caps/55 Goals) – SOPHARA UNITED

ALSO PLAYED FOR: N/A

CAREER OVERVIEW

Born in Swansea in October of 2018, Thompson joined the Sophara Youth Academy in 2031 at the age of 13. He would make his debut in April 2035 at the age of 16 and would play a bit part during their Championship title-winning 2035/36 season. It was during the club’s first season in the Premier League that he would begin showcasing his abilities and he would earn his first U21 Cap for Wales at the age of 17, getting named the U21 team’s vice-captain shortly thereafter. Although he would get plenty of playing time through the rest of his teenage years, he would struggle to find the kind of form and consistency needed in the Premier League until the 2038/39 season – that would become known as the left winger’s breakout year. He would earn his first Cap for Wales that season and would be named the 2039 Welsh Young Player of the Year as the comparisons to Wales legends Ryan Giggs and Gareth Bale grew louder.

The early and mid-2040s featured Thompson at his best. During the 2041/42 season, he would break the then Premier League record by registering 20 Assists, a number that was broken a few years later by Arsenal’s legendary Swiss midfielder Andrea De Carolis and then tied twice by his teammate Tyler Craig in 2047 and 2048. That season, at the age of 24, would be the finest of Thompson’s career, as quantity of injuries he would go through began to increase in number as the 2040s moved along. He would register at least 10 Assists for 6 straight seasons between 2041/42 and 2046/47, widely considered the peak of Thompson’s career by experts.

By the late 2040s, however, he became more of a goalscorer as opposed to a playmaker. In fact, between the 2046/47 and 2048/49 seasons, he would score 38 Goals, his most prolific goalscoring stretch of his career. Once considered to be one of the premier LWs in the world during the mid-2040s, having been subject to a £100M transfer enquiry by Real Madrid, injuries robbed him of what could have been a legendary career. Although he participated in many international tournaments, he was unable to lead Wales to any significant accomplishments during that time at the Euros and the World Cup.

Despite a lack of individual accolades and international accomplishments (other than qualifying to the European Championships twice and getting to the Second Round of the World Cup at Brazil 2050), Thompson is a legend for both country and club. He scored the most goals for Wales in a given year 5 times (2040, ’43, ’44, ’47, ’49), taking over from Dan Pugh – who was one of the world’s finest strikers in the 2030s and the most expensive Welsh player of all-time having been bought by Man City from Bournemouth for £90M in 2035 – as Wales best attacking weapon. The Sopharan First Golden Generation were probably the best attacking squad in the Premier League during most of the 2040s and Thompson was one of the most important pieces of it. Despite never truly achieving what many consider his true potential due to his several injuries, Thompson will retire a legend of both Sophara United and Wales.

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OTHER NOTABLE PLAYERS

Jake Ansell (Gibraltar – 101 Caps/17 Goals) is the only other player to have represented his nation’s main team internationally, earning over 100 Caps for Gibraltar over the course of his career. He left Sophara United in 2037 for £325K, heading to Portsmouth here he failed to make an impression and left on Free Transfer after 4 years. He played in Portugal with Boavista and in Holland with N.E.C. before returning to England with Wrexham in 2047. The two years he spent with Wrexham were the best of his career, leaving them on free in 2049 and is now about to start his 2nd season with Excelsior in Holland. Richard Warden is one of the club’s most expensive transfers, with Al-Shabab in the UAE paying £12M for him in 2047. While with Sophara, he was loaned out to 7 different teams and won 3 different titles with 3 different teams playing as a starter for all of them – the League One with Sheffield Wednesday in 2040, the Vanarama National League and the FA Trophy Cup with Bradford City in 2037. After Carl Jones left the club, he became Sophara’s primary backup but failed to appear in a game before moving to Dubai. He has done well in his 3 years with Al-Shabab. Sammy Carville was part of the ’35 Youth Class but failed to earn a contract – instead, he was snapped up by Northern Irish club Ballyclare in the summer of 2035. He has made a great career for himself in Northern Ireland and is currently with Larne as their captain in the Danske Bank Premier League where he is revered as a fans’ favorite. He broke their record for most goals in a season with 31 overall Goals and 25 League Goals in 2047/48 and has won the club’s Player of the Year 3 times (’44, ’48, ’49), becoming the club’s leading attacking threat during the mid and late 2040s. John Alexander was also deemed not good enough to be offered a contract by Sophara United and joined Fraserburgh in the Scottish lower leagues in 2035, where he has gone on to be a legend of the club. He left the club in 2042 and joined Arbroath for 3 years in the mid-2040s before coming back to his beloved Fraserburgh, where he is currently the club’s vice-captain.

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1 hour ago, Cardiovascular said:

I had to look on my game at who Akhmat were, nice to see a relative unknown (on my part at least) making progress!

They've actually be a regular in the Group Stages over the last few years now, they seem to be building up on reputation too!

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2050/51 – Quarter-Finals

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BARCELONA vs. ARSENAL: There were no mistakes from the La Liga heavyweights and last year’s beaten Finalists as Barcelona kept a clean sheet in both legs against the Premier League champions Arsenal. The 1-0 victory in London was a big one for Barcelona and an early own goal in the 2nd leg wiped the wind out of Arsenal. The last second goal to give Barcelona a 2-0 victory at the Nou Camp was the icing on the cake as the Spanish side advanced to their second straight Semi-Finals with minimal fuss thus far in the Knockout Rounds, having also defeated Greek champions PAOK 6-1 on aggregate in the Second Round. RESULT: Barcelona 3 – 0 Arsenal

SOPHARA UNITED vs. JUVENTUS: An exciting affair that was highlighted by the now two-time World Footballer of the Year Ben Gibson and his quest to beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s 17 Goals record. It was not to be as Gibson could only tie it (an amazing feat in itself) but a 0-0 draw at home in London knocked out the English side after they lose 3-2 in Italy. Juventus return to the Semi-Finals after a one year absence as they continue their quest to win their first title Champions League title since 2032. RESULT: Juventus 3 – 2 Sophara United

REAL MADRID vs. MANCHESTER UNITED: A clash between two of the biggest teams in the club football, the La Liga champions took a strong 2-0 victory in Madrid in the first leg and then held Man United to a 0-0 at Old Trafford. This was Real Madrid’s first trip back to the Semi-Finals since 2047 when they made the Finals but were beaten by Arsenal in Rome. Led by the highest valued player in the world in Dietmar Mayer, who has scored 8 Goals in 9 Appearances in the tournament, the Spanish champions advance to the next round in hopes of stopping the German champions Leipzig from winning their 4th straight title. RESULT: Real Madrid 2 – 0 Manchester United

LEIPZIG vs. BAYERN MUNICH: It used to be that Bayern Munich was the ultimate name in German football, but since the mid-2040s things have changed. Leipzig and Bayern Munich met last season in the Semi-Finals and it was the three-time defending champions who took it 4-2 on aggregate – this season, they hit that number of goals scored in the first leg at home, defeating their rivals 4-0 in dominant fashion. The 2nd leg in Munich ended 2-2 with the damage already having been done, setting Leipzig up for an epic clash with the La Liga champions – and their former star Dietmar Mayer – for a second straight year. RESULT: Leipzig 6 – 2 Bayern Munich

 

 

Edited by abulezz
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11 hours ago, abulezz said:

This is going down to the wire - we are in a good position and if we can pull a result against Chelsea away from home, it will make things a lot easier for us.

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Come on!! 

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SOPHARA UNITED

SEASON REVIEW 2050/2051

 

TEAM REVIEW

There cannot be mention of the incredible season Sophara United had without putting Ben Gibson first and foremost. Yes, football is a team game and no one player carry an entire team through the season to win the Premier League and FA Cup – the world’s most competitive domestic league and cup – much less in the same season. That being said, one would hard-pressed to another player in recent history who had as much as an effect and influence over his team’s success the way Gibson did this year. If there was any question who was the greatest player in Premier League history, it is no longer relevant after this season – Gibson broke nearly every record that matter on the road to his record 5th Premier League Footballer of the Year and record 7th PL Top Goalscorer award after breaking his own record for last year with a ridiculous 44 League Goals. He also captured his second consecutive World Golden Ball and World Footballer of the Year awards and it was not even close. Of course, the rest of the team did a great job – the defense set a new record with only 49 Goals Conceded (a best ever 9th in the PL) while leading the league with 96 Goals. Young CD Ryan Noray captured the PL Young Player of the Year and a record 5 Sophara players made the 2051 Premier League Select – Chris Davies, Ryan Noray, Lionel Wilkins, Anthony Wise, and Ben Gibson. Not only did they capture their first ever Premier League title – a fantastic crowning achievement for perhaps the greatest player over the past decade – but they also defeated Tottenham to capture their first ever FA Cup title. The Champions League saw a disappointing Quarter-Finals exit at the hands of defeated Finalists Juventus but Gibson equaled Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 17 Goals in a single season, proving himself the tournament’s greatest goalscorer since the great Messi/Ronaldo back and forth in the early parts of the century. The greatest season in club history.

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PREMIER LEAGUE REVIEW

Fifteen years after first becoming a Premier League club, Sophara United (1st) won its first title behind their star striker Ben Gibson’s record-breaking season. Not only did he shatter his own goalscoring record by hitting 44 Goals and winning the PL Top Goalscorer award for the third consecutive season and 7th time overall, he also became the all-time winner of the PL Footballer of the Year award having now captured it for the 5th time as well as winning it for the third consecutive year, as well. At the age of 32, Gibson solidified his status as perhaps the greatest Premier League and English player of all-time. Sophara United beat out the now former champions Arsenal (2nd), with Chelsea (3rd) and Manchester United (4th) rounding up the Top Four in what was an intense competition between those four sides all season long. Manchester City (5th) improved from last year but missed out on Champions League football for the fourth season in a row, with Everton (6th) making it back into a European football spot for the first time in 11 years. Aston Villa (7th) and Tottenham (8th), who started the season strong but faltered in the second half of it, grabbed the last two spots in Europe. Blackburn (20th) were the only team that was not newly promoted to get relegated, joined by Bournemouth (18th) and Sheffield United (19th) – the only team to survive the drop after getting promoted this year were Fulham (15th).

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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE REVIEW

Leipzig became only the second team in Champions League history – and the first since Real Madrid won the competition’s first five seasons from 1956 to 1960 – to win the title 4 times in a row, capturing their 5th title since 2045, putting their stamp of dominance as they destroyed Juventus 4-1 at Old Trafford in Manchester, England. Bozo Kalinic led the way with an incredible 16 Goals, topped only by Sophara United’s Ben Gibson, who equaled Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 17 Goals set in 2013/14 with Real Madrid. Kalinic nailed a hat-trick against the newly crowned Italian Serie A champions in the Finals in one of its most memorable individual performances of all-time, winning his 5th trophy enroute to cementing himself as one of the tournament’s all-time greats. Leipzig again defeated Real Madrid – and their former star Dietmar Mayer – and Bayern Munich for the second straight season to make the Finals, while Juventus denied Barcelona a second straight trip to the Finals after taking the tie on away goals in the Semi-Finals. Sophara United – who were also victims of Juventus in the Quarter-Finals – were led by Gibson’s 17 Goals, who captured the competition’s Golden Boot for the 4th time and Forward of the Season for the 5th time.

Highlight on BOZO KALINIC (Leipzig – Croatia: 92 Caps/60 Goals): One of the Champions League’s greatest players of all-time, Kalinic’s hat-trick in the Finals will go down as one of the greatest individual performances of all-time. The truth is, however, is that he was outstanding throughout, scoring 16 Goals and registering 7.82 AR as Leipzig left little doubt who the best team in the world was. Many predicted the fall of Leipzig to come after Dietmar Mayer left to Real Madrid two years ago, but Kalinic proved to be equal to the task of carrying the German champions to their 4th straight Champions League title and their 5th overall, having been a crucial member of each of their title-winning squads. The Leipzig legend, now 32, carries a legacy as one his generation’s ultimate winners – he is now a 6 time Bundesliga champion as well as having won the Champions League 5 times. He has yet to lose in a CL Finals and the 2045 World Golden Ball and World Footballer of the Year winner, who was bought by the German side in 2040 for £64M from St. Pauli, let it be known that he has his sights set on equaling Real Madrid’s record of having won the competition 5 times in a row next season.

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GOALKEEPERS

Since becoming the club’s full-time starter at the GK position 6 years ago, Chris Davies (’40 – Wales: 95 Caps) has yet to miss a game, playing in all 38 Games each season throughout that stretch. He was rewarded with his 4th Premier League Select nomination (2046, ’48, ’49, ’51) as he set a new career-high with 11 Clean Sheets and 1.29 Con/90 to go along with 7.34 AR. Davies, now 26, is now the 2nd highest valued GK in the world at £56M, behind only Leipzig and France’s Dame Mane. His rivalry with Man United’s Ximo over who is the Premier League’s best GK has now taken a favorable turn towards the Welsh superstar who was part of the Wales team that advanced to the Second Round of the World Cup last year Brazil 2050. He put his signature on a new contract at the end of the season that will continue to pay him £325K per week until 2056, maintaining his status as the highest paid player at his position in the world. He has now played in 282 League Games for his club and will soon cross 100 Caps for the nation despite his relatively young age. He is, without a doubt, already a club legend and at this point he is challenging Mark Connor for the title of greatest GK in club history.

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FULLBACKS

Like many others in the starting eleven, Chris Parry (’39 – Wales: 13 Caps) had a career year. The driven RB played in 33 Games – the 8th straight season he has played in 31 or more games – registering 2.77 TpG and career-highs of 94% Pass Completion and 7.11 AR while leading the team with 2.01 IpG (Interceptions per Game). Complaints about his inconsistency subsided this season as he showed up and performed well in big matches, so much so that talk about a long-term replacement for the player at RB all but disappeared by the end of the season. He is now 28 and in the prime of his career with his form being as good as it has ever been – his career average is 6.86 AR with 346 League Games under his belt thus far. It has been 11 years since he debuted for the club and while he spent most of the 2040s being told he was only in the starting lineup because of lack of options at the RB position, there is little doubt now that he will remain the club’s starter for the next few years now that he has shown he is capable of being capable of competing at the Premier League and continental level, having registered 7.00 AR in the Champions League this season.

Unlike the RB position, at LB it looks like the team will have a new starter next season after Abdul Samura (’49), only 18, impressed not only his coaching staff but the entire league this year. After playing in 4 Games during his rookie year, the English/Sierra Leonean defender, who is equally comfortable playing at CD, playing in 19 Games (17 Starts) this season, registering 2.80 TpG, 90% Pass Completion, 1.79 IpG (Interceptions per Game), and 6.98 AR. He featured in 5 Games in the Champions League, earning the trust of his manager and staff while showing fantastic growth in training. His defensive skills already are better than any other LB on the squad and shown himself to be a smart, physical, and consistent player. A champion already, the experience he received playing at such a high level this season expedited his development – he is now rated at 4.5/5 PA and has the look of a player that could turn out to be special for the club. He has already earned 4 U21 Caps for England and looks to be on the radar for the national team set up going forward.

Samara’s success at LB came at the expense of Nikos Dimosthenous (’44), who after 3 years at the club’s starter at the position could not convince management he was the answer. That being said, he had a big role in the rotation this season, playing in 28 Games (23 Starts) between LB and CD, registering 2.79 TpG, 92% Pass Completion, and 6.91 AR. Most experts consider him to be a Championship level player despite high expectations earlier in his career. Now 22, his development stagnated once he turned 20 and he hasn’t shown much improvement since – the conclusion is now that he has peaked as a player in terms of ability. He doesn’t do anything great but he is a smart player who is not scared to get involved physically. Pablo Cobo (’38) has now found himself as a bit player having played in only 3 Games and is looking to move elsewhere in order to find more regular playing time. Simon Richardson (’46), once an exciting prospect that was being named as Parry’s potential replacement at RB in some circles, played in only 9 Games after playing in 21 last season. His 6.64 AR was disappointing and given that he will turn 22 in November, not much more is expected of him in terms of further development.

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CENTRAL DEFENDERS

Now worth £65M – making him one of the top five most expensive defenders on the planet – and a recipient of a brand new contract that will pay him £300K per week, it defies belief that Lionel Wilkins (’42), now 25, remains uncapped by England. The media have been putting pressure on England’s Dutch manager Wesley Sneijder, who took over after Brazil 2050 one year ago from Giuseppe De Feudis, to name the CD in his squad, a request he finally relented to this summer with the expectation that Wilkins will finally become an England international. His value is actually the highest of any English player, not a surprising fact considering the great seasons he had. The powerful CD played in 36 Games, registering career-highs of 4 Goals, 3 PoMs, 94% Pass Completion, and 7.19 AR, bringing his career average up to 6.99 AR. Bouncing back from an injury-plagued year last season, Wilkins showed no ill affects as he became one of the best CDs in the PL, getting named to his first Premier League Select as Sophara United conceded a record low 49 Goals. The most talented CD to come out of the Sophara Youth Academy in its history, the slights about his poor technique are completely insignificant when it comes to his presence and ability on the pitch as a CD. An outstanding season from a player who has become one of the world’s outstanding CDs.

Next to him was another revelation – 19 year old Ryan Noray (’48) who just completed his third season at the club and his first as a starter. With Wayne Breen’s age catching up to him, the manager made the decision to promote Noray to the starting eleven at the beginning of the season, a move that ended up paying big dividends. Having only played 6 Games last season, many were unsure how Noray would respond to the challenge of a notoriously difficult position to play in the manager’s system. Not only was he up to the challenge, he had the most impressive season as a starter of any defender in the history of the club. In 28 Games (25 Starts), he registered 2 Goals, 2 Assists, 2 PoMs, 90% Pass Completion, and 7.13 AR. He was so impressive that he was named to the Premier League Select alongside his teammate Wilkins as a CD. Initially, he had wanted to declare for Trinidad and Tobago but has now earned 2 U21 Caps for England. Strong in the air and naturally fit, he still has to do some work with the ball at his feet but there is no doubting his potential ability at this point – in fact, many disagree with his 4/5 PA and believe it should be higher. Known to have somewhat of a fickle personality coming out of the Academy, he has changed his tune and has become a well-liked member of the squad with his coaches saying he has become ambitious and responsive in his quest to grow and get better.

Sophara United and Ireland legend Wayne Breen (’33 – Ireland: 107 Caps/3 Goals), who had been the club’s starter at CD for 14 years prior to this season, finally saw his playing time go down along with his physical abilities. Now 33, the club’s vice-captain played in 13 Games (9 Starts) – down from 36 last year – registering 6.85 AR and generally being the reliable and solid presence he has always been when called upon. While Wilkins is more talented than him, there is no doubt he is the greatest defender in the history of the club, having played in 520 League Games across his career which has now spanned 17 years.  

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CENTRAL/ATTACKING MIDFIELDERS

In every team there is a player whose importance cannot be computed using numbers and statistics – at Sophara United, that player is Eoin Hastings (’38 – England: 34 Caps/4 Goals). Simply put, he has filled a cap in the center of the pitch no other player could, combining his intelligence with his defensive skills and awareness to create a player that has become one of the premier defensive midfielders in the league without having to leave his feet much. His 1.40 TpG was amongst the lowest of his career yet his presence on the pitch has never been more influential. He tied his career-high of 4 Goals, also registering 3 Assists and 6.89 AR which was the third highest of his career. Like most of the team, he has a high football IQ and is known as an incredibly intelligent player, something which combines well with his innate ability to turn it up during the big matches. He is one of his manager’s favorite players and although he doesn’t play as a conventional CM, his role on the squad is irreplaceable as it stands.

Alongside him was the more flamboyant but less consistent Chavez Straker (’44 – England: 11 Caps), a player who reminds many of former Sophara United and current Man United and England star Jishua Tyrell in both talent and consistency. In 37 Appearances, he registered 9 Assists, 1.80 TpG, and 6.73 AR, the lowest of any member of the new champions’ starting eleven. His technical abilities and decision-making are his main strength and he is becoming one of the top passers in the league today, as well. The only thing left for him to do is to figure out how to be consistently involved in the manager’s title-winning formation and set-up. There is no doubting his ability and he has proven to be as durable as they come, missing only 4 Games over the past 3 seasons. Valued at over £50M, he is the target of interest from clubs such as Real Madrid, but the manager has already said he has no intention of entertaining any offers for him.

Backing up both Hastings and Chavez was 18 year old Allan Ferrier (’49), the young man who continues to be labeled the next Paul Gascoigne. He played in 10 Games this season, showcasing his talents which is high on flair and technique. He registered 6.76 AR while showing good efficiency with the ball – he had 87% Pass Completion while being one of the most creative passers on the team. He has jumped past Nigerian Ibrahim Udoka (’47), 20, in the pecking order and has become the first name off the bench at the CM position.

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WINGERS

Perhaps the deepest two positions on the squad, both the LW and RW position look in good shape for years to come. Kurtis Thompson (’35 – Wales: 107 Caps/56 Goals), who was part of the Welsh squad that advanced to the Second Round of the World Cup at Brazil 2050 last summer, played in 34 Games – his highest amount in 5 years – registering 4 Goals, a league-leading 17 Assists, and 6.90 AR. This was the 2nd time he led the league in assists, having first done so when he dished out 20 Assists in 2041/42, bringing the total for his career up to 144 Assists and 124 Goals in 473 Appearances. Now 32, Thompson’s age is beginning to show as his acceleration and pace has taken a hit over the past couple of years but he remains one of the finest passers in the Premier League today. He is not in any immediate danger of losing his starting spot – after all, he is a legend for both club and country and remains one of the best LW on the continent on a good day.

For only the second time in the past 13 years, Tyler Craig (’36 – England: 71 Caps/16 Goals) failed to play in at least 30 Games, dealing with both an ankle and a hip injury that kept him out of action for a total of over 2 months. One of the league’s elite passers, he delivered his 6th straight season over 10+ Assists, however, bringing his career total to 181 to go along with 120 Goals in 502 Appearances. The elite winger, now 30, registered 4 Goals and 7.03 AR this season in 29 Appearances, so he had a good year and remains on track to hit over 200 Assists before his career is done. Having been a member of the English team that went to Brazil 2050 last summer, many around the league blame is lack of rest for the injuries but the manager has stated that he expects Craig to be fully fit by the start of the 2051/52 campaign and ready to defend their newly earned Premier League title. Incidentally, he is the highest paid player in the history of the club at £525K per week and while many talk about it, no one can really say he is not worth it. He has been a crucial member of the squad for the past decade and will remain so for the next few years.

A number of young prospects have emerged from the Sophara Youth Academy over the past few years at both winger positions but Hugo Good (’44) remains the first name of the bench for the squad. He played in a career high 36 Games (7 Starts), registering 4 Goals, 5 Assists, and 6.87 AR, down from 6.92 AR and his career-high of 7.04 AR two seasons ago. The 22 year old doesn’t have the speed to become a truly elite winger but the manager has been more comfortable playing him down the left wing than he was up front. Papa Gueye (’48) long term position might yet be up front but for now he has been playing down the wings as well, although he found playing time scarce this season. The talented Senegalese, who is still only 19 and won’t turn 20 until March of next year, played in only 4 Games but was impressive, registering a Goal and 7.10 AR. His development continues to be closely monitored and the manager has suggested he will be looking to play him more next season. Both sophomore Dylan Hirst (’49), 18, and rookie Erol Escoffery (’50), 16, made their debuts this season and while both have great potential, they will be battling for playing time over the next couple of seasons down the left wing as well.

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FORWARDS

Staking his claim as the perhaps the greatest player of his generation, Ben Gibson (’34 – England: 140 Caps/102 Goals) had the finest season of any Premier League player this century and arguably of all-time. Finally adding the Premier League and FA Cup titles to his long list of achievements, he set a new PL record with an incredible 44 Goals – his second straight season with 40+ Goals – winning a record 7th PL Top Goalscorer and a record 5th PL Footballer of the Year award while registering a career-high 7.63 AR, his 3rd straight season of leading the league in the category. The 32 year old superstar is now in a club of his own – the 400 Goals/100 Assists/100 PoMs club – although from the looks of it, he might crack 500 League Goals before it is all said and done as he is at 468 right now. The greatest player in Premier League history, he won the footballing world’s ultimate individual prize for the second year in a row, capturing the 2050 World Golden Ball and 2050 World Footballer of the Year awards as well getting named to his 2nd straight World Team of the Year as part of its starting eleven. He did not just get it done in the Premier League, however – despite getting knocked out in the Quarter-Finals, he equaled Cristiano Ronaldo’s record of 17 Goals in the Champions League and won the competition’s Forward of the Season award for a record 5th time. He broke his club’s overall goals in a season record – one which he owned – with an incredible 76 Goals this season, winning the Sophara United Player of the Year award for a record 10th time, besting Mark Connor’s 9 times set in the 2030s. He has also equaled Nathan Riley’s record of 102 Goals for England and needs just one more to become his nation’s all-time leading goalscorer, a record which should be handed over to him sometime this summer or this coming fall. Once his career comes to an end in a few years presumably, there is no doubt that he will be crowned Sophara United, England, and the Premier League’s greatest player of all-time while also being recognized as one of the Champions League’s finest players this century.

One of the major changes done this season was the decision to play Anthony Wise (’43 – Northern Ireland: 64 Caps/19 Goals) up front as a false nine alongside Gibson. It ended up working out great as Wise delivered a career best season that contributed significantly to Sophara United winning their first Premier League and FA Cup titles. He played in 37 Games (missing his first game in the last three seasons), registering career-highs of 15 Goals, 16 Assists, 5 PoMs, and 7.18 AR as he was named to his first Premier League Select Team of the Year. One of the most valuable players in the world at £80M, he remains chased after by the greatest team of the last few years, Bundesliga and Champions League champions Leipzig. They made a ridiculous £184M offer for Wise last summer which was duly rejected but are poised to continue their courtship of the player this summer with rumors swirling they are ready to offer north of £200M to bring him to Germany. The manager has categorically stated that he will not sell him at any price, and with Wise having signed a new contract at the end of last summer, he is still under contract for at least 4 more years with Sophara. As opposed to last summer, however, he is no longer unhappy and has stated on several occasions his delight at being in London, playing alongside Ben Gibson, and also under the management of Kafra Jnoubi. A star for both club and country, he is one of the world’s most recognizable names in football today and is still only 24.

 Backing Gibson and Wise – and also spending large amounts of time down the right wing – was young prospect Foster Dave (’47), who played in a career-high 27 Games and registered 10 Goals and 6.96 AR. Still only 19, the English/Malawian continues to get better with many on the Sophara coaching staff complimenting his tough and driven mentality. How good he can become is still up for debate but his value has now risen to over £30M – his manager has publicly stated he hopes Dave can become the type of striker that will fight for the chance to take over from Gibson when the megastar starts winding down his playing career. Also backing up the forwards is Sophara United icon Niall Bayliss (’37 – England: 2 Caps), who played in 28 Games (7 Starts) but only scored 2 Goals. The word from inside the club is that they will be seeking a buyer for the 30 year old striker this summer but his value – which is around £55M – could prove to be a stumbling block. Despite being the consummate professional and never complaining, the manager said he felt Bayliss should spend the second part of his career playing regularly as it is something he deserves. How it plays out this summer remains to be seen.

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END OF SEASON REVIEW

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On 13/06/2021 at 20:38, deez0r said:

Come on!! 

We did it!

 

16 hours ago, TelcontarTargaryen said:

Good luck. On a side note, have you won any of the cups so far?

Thanks! Prior to this season, we had won the Championship, League One, Vanarama National, and Vanarama South titles. We had never won a Cup before outside of our Youth teams - we did get to the Carabao Cup Finals in 2048 but ended up losing. 

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12 minutes ago, deez0r said:

Woohoo! Congrats mate!

I was nervous about the Chelsea game but we were in a rich vein of form but we took a big 2-1 away win from them which pretty much sealed it. We ended up losing our last match of the season to Burnley but didnt matter. Gibson gets to retire with at least one Premier League title now!

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