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


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29 minutes ago, Cardiovascular said:

Good run in your debut Champions League season. Really like your writing style, gives loads of information. Always fascinating to see how well former players have done!

Thank you! I really enjoy writing the updates and delving into the details. Like you said, it is always fascinating and interesting to me to see how the rest of the world is doing in my save, especially my former players. Thank you for commenting!

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I pulled the trigger - it was a good offer and maybe he can turn it around at another club. I have some good talent in the midfield that are waiting for their chance, and I think I've been patient enough with Tyrell. Maybe he just didnt fit in my system. 




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Going through some of my older Intakes to see who has retired/turned into backroom staff and thought I'd highlight one of the first club legends in Aboagye, who won the Sophara United Player of the Year award for 4 consecutive years from 2022 to 2026.



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Kim Rune Hansen ('26) was our first Norwegian youth player, and although he never played for Sophara United, he went on to have a great career with Folkestone in the lower leagues, becoming a legend for the club and retiring as a Folkestone player after spending 14 years with them. He is now looking for his first job as a coach.






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Douglas Noble ('26) was considered one of the star prospects of the '26 Youth Class but never quite panned out for Sophara United. He did go on to have long career after he left the club, spending time in the Scottish lower leagues with Livingston (2 years), Peterhead (6 years, best spell of his career), and a season with Raith. He is now looking for his first job as a coach or an assistant manager.




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Ellis Graham ('27) is the only player from the '27 Youth Class to transition from player to backroom staff, although he has yet to find a job. After leaving the club (where he was part of the rotation in the late 2020s and early 2030s), he spent 5 years at Bangor City before retiring from playing and focusing on becoming a coach.




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This looks like a fantastic Intake - Hugo Good is the first player this save that I remember getting the coveted "possibly the best player of his generation" which even Ben Gibson did not get. (NOTE: Anthony Wise in the Intake before got one of the most gifted players in recent years - Hugo Good is my first 'best player of his generation') There is also some good talent elsewhere, although it all depends on how they develop. Good is the obvious gem, but definitely not at his natural positions. I will re-train him at CM I think.








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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2044 - Second Round

There were no surprises in the Second Round of the 2044 edition of the Champions League. The three-time defending champions Arsenal have shown no sign of letting up - they decimated current La Liga leaders Real Madrid 4-1 at home before taking a 2-2 draw in Spain. Roma impressed with a strong defeat of Borussia Dortmund, setting up a Serie A showdown in the Quarter-Finals with AC Milan, who defeated Paris Saint-Germain 4-3 over 2 legs. The northern Italian team, who have won the CL title 7 times with the most recent one coming in 2007 (that was also their last trip to the Finals), have made the Quarter-Finals once prior to this season in the last 20 years, losing to Barcelona in 2040. As for Roma, they are repeating as Quarter-Finals after losing to the eventual champions at this stage last season. This is the first time since 2021 that 3 Seria A times make it to the Quarter-Finals - Inter Milan won a tough tie against French side Monaco, defeating them on away goals after a 4-4 draw across both legs. They got drawn against Atletico Madrid, who were convincing against Porto, defeating them 6-3, equaling Arsenal for most goals scored in the Second Round. The champions, meanwhile, set themselves up for a nice Premier League rivalry tie as they see themselves line up against Man City (who defeated Benfica), the most dominant team in Europe during the early and mid-2030s before Arsenal claimed that label. Man City made the Finals 6 times in a row (winning 2 of them in 2030 and 2031) which was a record at the time until Arsenal broke it. The last Quarter-Finals matchup is one for the nostalgic - historical giants Man United and Barcelona, who took expected victories over Salzburg and Sophara United, respectively, got drawn together. There are no Bundesliga or Ligue 1 teams this year in the Quarter-Finals. 



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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2044 - Quarter-Finals

It is over! Arsenal's stranglehold on the competition came to end as Man City defeated their Premier League rivals 5-4 over the two legs, including a 4-2 victory at home. After 8 consecutive Finals appearances, the three-time defending champions record streak final comes to an end. They face off against AC Milan in the Semi-Finals after an intense all-Serie A affair against Roma needed penalties to confirm a winner. Milan won in front of the Roma crowd to their dismay after both legs ended 2-2 - this is Milan's first trip back to the competition's Semi-Finals stage in at least 25 years. Man United and Atletico Madrid both were convincing in their victories over Barcelona and Inter Milan, respectively, and face each other in the other Semi-Finals matchup. This leaves a chance for a tantalizing all-Manchester Finals in Moscow, while AC Milan is vying to be the first Italian team back in the CL Finals since Juventus won it in 2032 - prior to that, the last Serie A team to win the title were Inter Milan in 2010. 



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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2044 - Semi-Finals

The Finals in Moscow will end up becoming an all-Manchester affair as both Man United and Man City overcame their opponents in Atletico Madrid and AC Milan, respectively. Man United are making their 2nd straight Finals appearances, hoping to capture their 6th title and their first since winning them back-to-back in 2034 and 2035. Man City, which made 6 Finals in a row from 2028 to 2033, will be after their 5th title and first Finals appearance since 2033. Both teams have never met before in a Champions League Finals, making it high-stakes football for bitter rivals.



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Sophara United finished in 4th Place for the 3rd year in a row, earning its 3rd consecutive place in the Champions League in the process. After a rough start to the season, the ship righted its course and it was relatively smooth sailing after 2043 turned into 2044, with the club maintaining its presence in the Top Four the rest of the year. The offense was on point again with the club finishing as the 2nd best offensive team in the PL, scoring one goal less than now two-time defending champions Arsenal. The club’s 103 Goals marked a significant improvement from last season (83 Goals), but still fell short of their record of 108 Goals set in 2041/42. The defense did not play as well as they did in the previous season, however – the 51 Goals Conceded went up to 62 Goals Conceded, but it was also better than two seasons ago so the progress seems real. They were, however, the 6th worst defensive team in the league, conceding way too many goals in the last 10 minutes of their games overall. The club earned 78 Points, which was a new record, as they won 24 of their 38 Games. Niall Bayliss equaled Christie’s record of 35 Goals (although Cvijovic set a new PL record with 40 Goals this season), but it was Ben Gibson who was the star for the team in the Champions League. After qualifying out of Group F on top of a group that featured Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus, and Greek champions PAOK, Sophara United were taught a lesson by Barcelona in the Second Round.

The summer of 2043 saw the sale of Jishua Tyrell (’33 – England: 42 Caps/5 Goals) to Manchester United for a deal that was worth £40M up front and could potentially go up to £60M. It was a tough decision but Tyrell seemingly could not fit into the system in place by the manager and with so many young prospects playing in the same position vying for playing time, the manager felt it was best for the club and player. The other player sold (also in the summer of 2043) was Jerome Parris (’40) for £58K to Middlesbrough – with some more talented GKs in front of the youngster in the pecking order, Parris was given a chance to join another club after spending two years on loan. The Finances remain in wonderful shape as the Bank Balance approaches £350M and all facilities state of the art and some of the best in the world.








This was a fun season, although it was consistent – there is now definitely a Top Two, comprised of two-time defending champions Arsenal (1st) and the only other team to who have won the Premier League in the past 11 years in Manchester United (2nd). The last time one of these two teams came in lower than 2nd Place was 2040, when Manchester City (3rd) finished as Runners-Up to Arsenal. This was Man City’s 2nd consecutive 3rd Place finish, and it was Sophara United’s (4th) 3rd consecutive 4th Place finish. Arsenal’s legendary German striker Nikola Cvijovic set a new PL record with 40 Goals this season, breaking Sophara United striker Kieran Christie’s record of 35 Goals set during the 2041/42 season. He was not the only record-breaker – Arsenal’s 26 year old Swiss midfielder Andrea De Carolis broke his own Assists record which he set with 20 in 2040 (equaled by Sophara’s Kurtis Thompson in 2042) by delivering 21 Assists this season, winning the 2044 PL Footballer of the Year award in the process. Finishing outside the Top Four were Fulham (5th), Aston Villa (6th), and Liverpool (7th), all of which earned spots in the Europa League. Fulham improved from 14th to 5th, Aston Villa from 15th to 6th, while Liverpool dropped one spot from last season. Tottenham (8th) lost their European spot, while Bristol City (9th) impressed in their first season of their return to the PL, finishing ahead of Everton (10th), who ended up in the same place as last season. The only newly promoted team that is going back to Championship is Middlesbrough (19th) – the other two, Bristol City and Sheffield United (15th) both survived the drop comfortably.


Highlight on NIKOLA CVIJOVIC (Arsenal): Playing under his 3rd manager since joining Arsenal 10 years ago (Nikola Kovac and Zinedine Zidane both retired), Cvijovic proved his talent transcends all factors after leading Arsenal to their 2nd straight title and their 8th during his stint with the club. He did so in grand fashion, too – his 40 Goals in the PL are a new league record. He has been the biggest name in football for the past few years and his championship cabinet can rival any other player in the game’s history. The 31 year old German striker scored those 40 Goals in 34 Appearances, registering 6 Assists, 10 PoMs (career-high), and 7.60 AR as his club dominated the PL yet again.  


Highlight on ANDREA DE CAROLIS (Arsenal): As legendary as Cvijovic’s season was, he missed out on the 2044 PL Footballer of the Year. That, instead, went to his 26 year old Swiss teammate, who broke the PL Assists record for the 2nd time in 5 seasons after registering 21 Assists from 35 Appearances this season – he also registered 11 Goals (tied his career-high), 7 PoMs, and a league-high 7.63 AR. The elite winger is considered a ‘Model Professional’ and his country’s star player, a term that is now applied on his status with his club as this is the 2nd time he captures the league’s highest individual honor, having won it for the first time in 2040. Since joining the club 5 seasons ago, he has won 4 titles and has proven himself to be one of the greatest footballers on the planet currently.









Arsenal’s consecutive Finals streak ended at a record 8 times and 3 titles in a row, although the title stayed in England, moving the short trip from London to Manchester. After losing to Arsenal at the Nou Camp in Barcelona last year, Manchester United got it right this year, winning their 7th title from their 10th appearance in the Finals. What made it sweeter was that they defeated arch-rivals Manchester City 2-0 at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, the team that defeated the three-time defending champions in the Quarter-Finals before disposing of AC Milan in the Semi-Finals. Atletico Madrid were Man United’s victims in the Semi-Finals in a hard-fought affair after the English team had taken out Inter Milan 5-3 on aggregate in the previous round. Man City striker Dan Pugh was the star of the competition this season – his 13 Goals were the most of any player since 2019/20 when Bayern Munich legend Robert Lewandowski scored 15 Goals while leading his club to the CL title. The new champions were the only repeat Semi-Finals – it has been decades since AC Milan last reached that stage and Atletico Madrid, who last won the title in 2037, last made it to the Semi-Finals in 2041.


Highlight on DAN PUGH (Manchester City): The 33 year old Welsh striker completed his 10th year with Man City in grand fashion, leading them to their first CL Finals in 11 years before running into the brick wall that was Man United. Regardless, his 13 Goals were the highest of any player in 24 years, adding to his already legendary career that began in 2027 with Barnsley. Born in Dinas Powys just south of Cardiff, Wales, he was recruited at a young age and came up through the Barnsley Youth Academy system, spending the first 5 years of his career with the club in the Championship before being bought by then PL club Bournemouth in 2031 for £41.5M. He spent 4 unspectacular years there before Man City came calling, paying a staggering £90M in January 2035 for a player that had not accomplished much. They saw something that no one else did and paid a premium to get it – the rest is history. He has since made 331 League Appearances for the club, scoring 216 Goals, breaking the club’s previous record of 204 Goals in 2043. Amazingly enough, Man City has not won any major trophy while Pugh has been at the club despite the talent that has been at the club during that time. He has now won the Man City Player of the Year award for the 2nd consecutive time – last season, he netted 30 League Goals, his first and only season where he scored at least 30 Goals. He has, however, scored at least 20 Goals in 7 of the 10 years he has been at the club.   








A couple of ‘Moderate’ injuries had noticeable implications this season, especially as they were both experienced by No.1 Carl Jones (’34 - England: 2 Caps), who only played in 22 Games as a result. The former Premier League Footballer of the Year (he won it last season) was as solid as ever when he did play, however, registering an insane 7.70 AR – had he played in more games, that would have set a new PL record for GK AR. Instead, he had to watch the continued growth and impressive play of his understudy from the bench. Is Jones in danger of losing his starting spot the year he finally earned himself a Cap for England? The general consensus around the league is that the answer is ‘No’, but there is no doubt that there definitely is some time-sharing at play at the GK position at Sophara United.

The reason for the rotation is that Chris Davies (’40 – Wales: 16 Caps) cannot be ignored. Simply put, he has been just as good as Jones between the sticks and is widely considered to have the potential to be even better. In fact, his value (£38.5M) now exceeds that of Jones (£35M) despite being 6 years younger. Only 19 years of age, Davies played in 16 League Games and has officially been classified as a ‘Wonderkid’, registering 7.52 AR in his 4th season with the club. What was more telling is that Davies was offered a new 5 year contract this season, one that pays him £95K per week (close to Jones’ £110K per week) and promises him consistent playing time. The battle for No.1 at Sophara United just got intense, especially that Jones is now building up to become England’s starter at GK. Both Jones and Davies have been called up to their respective nation’s Euro 2044 teams.







After a few years of relative stability in the starting line-up at the fullback positions, Chris Parry (’39 – Wales: 13 Caps) finally took the step many saw coming as he became the go-to starter for the club at RB. He played in a career-high 32 Games, and although his 6.74 AR was step down from the 6.81 AR he registered last season, his 3.86 TpG was second on the team only to league-leader Mbah. Generally considered the most talented fullback on the team, he has the versatility to play down either flank but his natural position is down the right. He has become a full-fledged member of the Wales national team and will be joining them for his first major international tournament at the Greece 2044 European Championships. He crossed the 100 League Game mark for the club very late in the season, and the 21 year old has already been announced as the club’s starter at RB going into the 2044/45 season.

On the left, Pablo Cobo (’38) continued to occupy the starting LB position. The 22 year old did experience his first ever ‘Major’ injury this season, however – an injury to his knee ligaments ruled him out for just under 2 months, resulting in the first season since joining the club and becoming starter 6 years that he played in under 30 Games. He did register a career-high 5 Assists, and his 6.81 AR, although down from last year’s 6.86 AR, was still the 2nd best mark of his career. At this stage, no one really believes that Cobo will develop into the kind of talent that is needed in the PL (he is considered a Championship-level player) but he remains the best option the club have. The Spanish LB, who has now played 204 League Games for the club, has done a lot better on the pitch over the past 2 seasons and while the murmuring from the club is that the Youth Academy need to deliver them a better talent at the position, he continues to be a serviceable player who has done a decent job thus far.

Losing his starting position to Parry could not have been easy, but Max Newton (’30) – who turned 30 this season – remained a professional, as he has been throughout his career. That being said, he did approach his manager at the end of the season requesting to continue his career somewhere where he can continue to receive the kind of playing time he is after, and the manager obliged. Whether he will move this summer or not remains to be seen – Omar Everett requested the same last season and while it was widely assumed he would move clubs, he has yet to do so one year on. He played in 20 Games this season (12 Starts), the lowest amount of any season since he made his debut for the club in 2031/32. His 6.75 AR was identical to last year (he has 6.74 AR career average), and he was tied for 2nd on the team with 3.86 AR. The manager was stated that Newton still has a big role to play at the club should he choose to stay, covering both the RB and CD positions.

Behind Pablo Cobo is young Corey Gollan (’42), an unheralded prospect from the ’42 Youth Class (which features players such as Lionel Wilkins and Douglas Owino) who has the versatility to play on either flank. He came out of the Sophara Youth Academy with 2/5 PA – he has already shown enough improvement to have a 3/5 PA rating and his 2.5/5 CA is almost equal to Cobo. He made his debut this season, playing in 6 Games and registering 6.52 AR, but his dedication in training has been impressive so far. How he progresses this season in terms of his ability will say a lot about his potential and how high his ceiling can be.








A few years ago, the CD position was a problem area – the talent needed to compete at a Premier League was simply not available, not was the depth needed to cover the rest/injuries to players in such a physically tough position. Fast forward to 2044, and we finally can see the light at the end of the talent (hopefully), with quite a few prospects that could turn out to good enough to play well for the club in the PL. It still all starts with Vice-Captain and Irish international Wayne Breen (’33 – Ireland: 71 Caps/2 Goals) – the 26 year old will be joining his Irish counterparts in yet another major tournament this summer at Greece 2044. He played in 32 Games this season, registering a career-high 6.94 AR to go along with 1 Goal, 3 Assists, 1 PoM (the first of his career), and 1.46 TpG. His worth for the club goes beyond his performances on the pitch and his £17M official value – he is a great leader who has been mentoring youngsters for the past few years on how to be ‘Driven’ and professional. He crossed the 300 League Games mark (301) this season and remains an underrated player for all those who don’t have reasonable knowledge of the club. The fans – and the backroom staff – of Sophara United, however, know that Breen is a legend in the making for the club.

Alongside him in the starting eleven for a 2nd straight year was Eoin Hastings (’38), a player who is 21 years old and still carries a 5/5 PA rating despite only having a 3/5 CA rating currently. His 6.77 AR was a big drop from 6.94 AR registered last season, although he did have to deal with a ‘Major’ injury in the form of a hernia after injuring his groin earlier in the season. He lost over 2 months of football due to the injuries, which contributed in him playing only 26 Games this season and perhaps his dip in form, as well. He remains a perplexing player who is probably better suited for a midfield position, but he impressed this year with his improvement in his pure defensive skills and instincts. The media continues to dub him as potentially the ‘new Bobby Moore’ – high praise given the fact that Moore is considered one of the greatest defenders in the history of football, with legend Pele once saying that he was the best defender he had ever played against. Whether he will reach the lofty heights that the captain of England’s 1966 World Cup winning team reached remains to be seen, but Hastings seems to have the full confidence of his manager and staff. He has already won the European U19 Championship in 2041 and earned his first U21 cap for England this past season, getting a total of 4 U21 caps thus far. How he continues to improve in his defensive skills over the course of the next 2 seasons will determine just how good Hastings can become.

Out of the 3 prospects currently fighting for playing time at the CD position behind the starters, Lionel Wilkins (’42) has perhaps impressed the most so far. He came out of the Sophara Youth Academy with a 4/5 PA rating – that has since been adjusted to 5/5 PA. He made his debut this season and played in 15 Games, registering 2 Assists and 6.81 AR, with the report on him saying that he could reach PL-level talent soon if his progress in training keeps up. While he continues to have poor technique, he has shown good improvement in his defensive abilities as well as his physical ones. Also fighting for playing time is Ghanaian/English CD Aminu Amoako (’41), who declared his availability for the Ghanaian national team and has now played in 7 U20 games for the African country. Born in Obuasi, which is considered the gold mining capital of Ghana, he was offered a new 5 year contract that will pay him £18.5K per week at the end of the season. That means the manager has faith and a long term plan in place for Amoako, and he proved capable when called up this season – in 6 Games, he registered 1.83 TpG and 7.10 AR. The 6 Games were also more than his first two seasons combined (he played in 2 Games each during his rookie and sophomore years), although the Ghanaian media has been making noise that he should be at a new club where he can be given more playing time to aid his development. The final, and youngest, prospect is rookie Ibrahim Bosque-Hamilton (’43), who made his debut this season coming on as a substitute in 2 Games. The English/Sierra Leonean 16 year old defender had a 4/5 PA coming out of the Youth Academy but that has since been downgraded to 3.5/5 PA. He already has good aerial abilities and is actually a very similar player to Wilkins. His progress will be watched closely over the next few seasons.









The biggest news of the season concerning the players was the sale of Jishua Tyrell (’33 – England: 42 Caps/5 Goals) to Man United for a deal that is rapidly approaching £60M, the amount due after all clauses are hit. He did better at his new club than at Sophara United (7.03 AR) but it did leave a bit of a hole in terms of experienced CMs left on the team. The rock for the team remained Nigerian international Arinze Mbah (’28 – Nigeria: 82 Caps/4 Goals), who again led the league with a career-high 7.59 TpG and 184 Tackles Won. Without a doubt the best tackler in the PL today, he also registered a career-high 6.94 AR in his 26 Games, although his 12 Yellow Cards continued to be a stain on his overall game. Now 31 years of age, there is simply nothing negative to be said about him. He has been a model professional for the club through his 16 years at Sophara United and is now just 8 Games away from hitting 500 League Games (492) for it. It is said often but it is worth repeating – he is an absolute legend for both club and country.

Playing in front of Mbah this season was hyped rookie Anthony Wise (’43), who is considered to be one of the most talented players to come out of the Sophara Youth Academy in the last few years. Playing as an AM instead of alongside Mbah, his first season with the club went well – he played in 32 Games (28 Starts), registering 7 Goals, 2 Assists, and 6.69 AR. He did much better in the first few months of the season than the last few – at one point, his AR was close to hitting 7.00 AR. In any case, the rookie was talked about by experts and pundits throughout the season, especially as he netted 7 Goals in his first year in the Premier League. He earned himself a new contract that will pay him £38K at the end of the season as the expectations by everyone is very high around the youngster. He wasn’t just impressive on the pitch – his work rate and dedication in training produced significant results. For example, he added +4 to his Vision and +3 to his Passing in just one year. Already a flamboyant player on the pitch with lots of flair, if his passing abilities continue to improve at this pace, he will easily be one of the most exciting midfielders in the PL before long.

The CM position, like the CD position, is one that is deep within the Sophara United squad, with quite a few players looking to earn more playing time. Jason Anderson (’41) was the one that earned the most playing time this season, appearing 20 Games (14 Starts), mostly to cover Mbah. The 19 year old, who made his debut last season, did alright, registering 3 Assists, 3.51 TpG, 84% Pass Completion, and 6.79 AR, which was down from 6.94 AR last season. His value has now reached around £8M and he has now made 6 U21 appearances for Wales. Confrontational and volatile, his temper needs to be controlled by that is something that will probably come with age. Also in the rotation is Sam Martin (’39) – once assumed to be the next in line should Tyrell be sold, he has found his place taken by upstart Wise. The 21 year old appeared in 21 Games (7 Starts), registering 2 Goals, 3 Assists, and 6.75 AR, a slight increase over last year. This was his 5th season with the club and has now had his PA ratings downgraded from 5/5 to 4/5 PA. That being said, he is happy at the club and feels delighted with the amount of playing time he has been getting – as long as that remains the case, Martin will continue being part of the rotation going forward. The two odd men out have been 23 year old Boubacar Diallo (’37) and Xavier Maddison (’38), both of whom were considered to have a lot of potential but have thus far failed to pan out as expected. Diallo might have played his last game for the club after having a falling out with the manager, with the word being that the club will look to move him this summer. He played in 22 Games last season but only 4 this year (scoring 2 Goals), but the future doesn’t look so bright for him with the club. Maddison, who has already earned 15 U21 Caps for Scotland, played in only 3 Games (0 Starts) this season after making 18 Appearances last year. It’s unclear whether he is in the plans for his manager going forward but the “new Jim Baxter” has expressed his happiness in being part of the rotational setup at the club and does not want to leave, unlike Diallo.











The injury list for Kurtis Thompson (’35 – Wales: 35 Caps/19 Goals) is extensive and at this point in his career, it has become an accepted fact that the 25 year old elite left winger is as injury-prone as they come. He played in only 26 Games this season thanks to injuries to his groin, calf (twice), and ankles, registering 7 Goals, 12 Assists, and 7.08 AR, a far cry from the 7.50 AR he recorded 2 seasons ago when he dished out 20 Assists. His talent is undeniable – his worth is close to £70M and he is constantly being courted by the world’s biggest teams. There is no clear weakness in his game and he can do it all – score, pass, and even defend. The problem remains is that he cannot seem to complete a full season without falling to injuries, and his recovery time is always longer than usual whether it is getting back from the injury or recovering his match fitness afterwards. Without a doubt, he is a star of world football and one of the best left wingers on the planet today – if he can get rid of these nagging injuries (I have no idea how) then he will be one of the most sought after players on the planet. He has a chance to shine on one of the world’s largest stages at Greece 2044 European Championship this summer.

On the other side is 23 year old English right winger Tyler Craig (’36 – England: 17 Caps/4 Goals), who will finally represent England at a major tournament after being cast out of the World Cup squad a couple of years ago. He had a consistent season, similar to what he has been doing for the past few years – 37 Games, 9 Goals, 11 Assists, and 7.02 AR. For the past 5 years, his AR has ranged between 7.02 to 7.16, so with Craig – at least thus far in his young career – the team knows exactly what it is getting. He doesn’t possess the crazy speed that can outright destroy opposing fullbacks, but he is a technical player who has some really good passing abilities. He is now being paid like a star (£235K per week, the richest contract in club history including Ben Gibson) and he is on the verge of becoming one with his value now reaching £50M. He has 82 career Assists now, so the assumption is by the time he turns 25 he would have crossed 100 Assists – a number a lot of players need their entire careers to accomplish. After showing up for a few big games this season, his latest report no longer carries the criticism that he doesn’t show up for the big games. As commented before, the main knack on him remains his attacking instincts and movement, but he continues to work on them.

The most pleasant surprise from the winger group this season was Tosin Okoye (’36) – part of the same ’36 Youth Class with Craig (but much less heralded), Okoye has stepped as the go-to name off the bench for either winger position. The 24 year old English/Nigerian had a career year this season – in a career-high 33 Games, he registered career-highs (in a Sophara uniform, at least) of 4 Goals, 7 Assists, 1.17 DpG, and 7.05 despite only having 5 Starts. Reliable, efficient, and capable of extraordinary every once in a while, Okoye has become a fan favorite who is constantly up to something on the pitch. He is naturally a right winger but the manager has played him successfully as cover for Thompson down the left, as well. Behind him is young Willie McKeown (’43) – the rookie made his debut this season playing in 3 Games (1 Start) while registering 1 Assist and 6.77 AR. He’s already earned 7 U21 Caps for Northern Ireland, although the idea is to shift him to be more of a striker than a winger. In any case, he is still very young – he turns 18 at the beginning of next season. He needs to pick up some of the more positive tendencies from the time, such as their work rate and drive as he seems to have a laid-back if not passive personality and attitude.








Niall Bayliss (’37) had a breakout season last year and based on that he started this season in much heavier rotational role with Christie alongside Gibson. No one could have predicted what happened next – in 33 Games, he tied Christie’s PL record of 35 Goals (eventually broken by Cvijovic’s 40 Goals) while also registering 9 Assists, 9 PoMs, and a sensational 7.49 AR. Critics will point out to Christie’s out of this world seasons during the 2035/36 and 2041/42 seasons as proof that single seasons like this can happen at the club, but this felt different. It felt like Bayliss finally figured it out after scoring 15 Goals last year and is now ready to take his game to the next level for the next several years. He is only 23 years old and, quite ridiculously, has not yet earned his first Cap for England – that should be rectified soon, however, as he is part of the 4 Sophara United players (Gibson, Craig, and Jones are the others) that will be representing England at Greece 2044 this summer. He struggled on the continent (7 Games, 2 Goals, 6.65 AR) after impressing in the CL last season, but that did not take away from the blistering season he had in which he finished 2nd in the PL Top Goalscorer award. In fact, he was the only Sophara United player to be named in the 2044 Premier League Select as he was easily one of the top strikers in the league this season.

For the first time in 6 years, Ben Gibson (’34 – England: 68 Caps/50 Goals) scored less than 30 League Goals, finishing the season 22 Goals and equaling his career-high of 12 Assists – he also finished the season with 7.27 AR, which was actually his lowest mark since the 2036/37 season. That is not to say he became any less important – the striker is by far the most influential and important member of the team, as evidenced by the fact that he has been Club Captain for a number of years now. Despite this, he has yet to sign a new contract, with his current contract expiring next summer. This has been a big cause of stress for the manager and the backroom staff all season long, but he has refused to entertain a meeting. For the first time in his career, his value now exceeds £80M, and the manager has continuously called on the elite striker to put pen on paper on what he promises will be the richest contract in club history. After 356 League Games and 237 League Goals – a career which also includes 91 Assists and 7.22 AR – Gibson is an absolute legend of the club and is widely considered to be the most talented player in the history of the club and in the history of the Sophara Youth Academy. He will be leading the England front-line at Greece 2044 this summer.

The emergence of Gibson and, more recently, Bayliss has put Kieran Christie (’32) as the 3rd choice striker in most cases for the team. The former World U21 Footballer of the Year (2036) delivered a decent season (31 Apps, 10 Goals, 10 Assists, 6.93 AR), but he is clearly not the same player he was a few years ago after having to deal with 2 ‘Major’ injuries over the last 5 seasons. The 28 year old Scottish striker is still haggling for an international call-up with Scotland and it is not clear why that has not happened yet. Internally, none of this matters – Christie’s influence stretches beyond the pitch and it is hard to imagine him leaving the club unless it is by his own accord. He has been part of the set-up for the past 12 years, is entering what should be the prime of his career, and the manager clearly stated he believes Christie has at least one more 20+ Goal season in him if not more, giving him the ultimate vote of confidence. He has played in a total of 426 Games for the club so far, registering 221 Goals, 101 Assists, and 7.01 AR, numbers that even the best of strikers dream to have at the end of their careers.










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GREECE 2044 – Euro Championship



A record 8 Sophara United players were representing the club at Euro 2044 this year – 4 with England (Ben Gibson, Niall Bayliss, Tyler Craig, Carl Jones), 2 with Wales (Kurtis Thompson, Chris Davies), and one each with Ireland and Northern Ireland (Wayne Breen and Anthony Wise), although none of them would face each other in the Group Stages. Defending champions and hosts Greece were in Group A with England, Croatia, and Switzerland in what was dubbed the tournament’s ‘Group of Death’ – the 2nd toughest group on paper was Group F, which featured Italy, defeated Finalists at Italy 2040 Portugal, Serbia, and Wales. Group C had Germany, Holland, Slovakia, and Ireland, while Group D saw Northern Ireland pitched in with Romania, Belgium, and Russia.

 Anthony Wise, Sophara United’s 17 year old midfielder, scored in his European Championship debut, netting a goal in Northern Ireland’s 4-2 loss to Russia. England had a tough 1-1 draw with Switzerland, Ireland lost 1-0 to Germany, and Wales took a surprising 3-2 victory over juggernauts Italy on the first Matchday despite an average performance from their star Thompson. On Matchday Two, England fought to a 1-1 draw with the defending champions, with Ben Gibson scoring his nation’s only goal – Tyler Craig was the other Sophara player to participate in the match. Ireland lost their second straight match against Holland as the Dutch ran out 2-1 victors – Wayne Breen did not have an especially good game, registering 6.5 AR. Northern Ireland lost to Romania 3-2, but Anthony Wise had another solid game, scoring a goal and dishing out an assist as he registered 7.8 AR and won the PoM. Wales also faced the same fate as Ireland and Northern Ireland, losing 1-0 to Portugal with both Thompson and Davies playing.

Going into Matchday Three, England needed a win to ensure qualification, but instead had to settle for a draw with Croatia. Having drawn all 3 of their matches, they ended up in 3rd Place as the hosts and Croatia ensured automatic qualification to the Second Round. England, meanwhile, would have to wait to see how the other matches played out in the other groups to find out their fate. Again, only Gibson and Craig played in the match but both were unimpressive. Both Ireland and Northern Ireland lost their final matches to Slovakia and Belgium, respectively, ending an underwhelming campaign for both teams as their failed to gain a single point from their 3 games. Even more disappointing were Wales, who lost to Serbia 3-1 in what ended up being a tough group, losing out on qualifying to the Second Round all together. All Sophara United players with the exception of Carl Jones and Niall Bayliss played in all 3 of their nations’ matches in the Group Stages.



The Second Round kicked off with Holland defeating Croatia – who fell to Germany at the same stage the last time they qualified to the European Championship in 2036 – in a tough match which ended with a 3-2 result. The hosts faced off against Spain, who defeated the defending champions 3-2 in extra-time after Greece had taken a 2-0 lead in the first 10 minutes. Denmark produced the first real shock of the tournament by knocking out heavily favored France 1-0 in extra-time. Germany, who won back-to-back titles at Scotland/Wales 2032 and at their home ground at Germany 2036, made up for their Second Round exit at Italy 2040 with a 2-1 win over a plucky Serbian side. Ukraine, who surprised everyone at Germany 2036 by advancing to the Quarter-Finals and who were Second Round casualties at Italy 2040 having lost to eventual champions Greece, again shocked the footballing world with a dominant 3-0 victory over heavily favored Belgium. Spain 2028 winners and 2040 hosts Italy continued their strong play in the tournament over recent years with a good 3-1 win over upstarts Slovakia, setting up a showdown with surprising Ukraine in the Quarter-Finals. England, and Gibson in particular, where very disappointing this tournament, meekly going out to the Czech Republic after a 2-1 loss in match that saw only Gibson and Craig play from the Sophara United players. The current World Cup champions Portugal ended up making short work of Russia, defeating them 2-0 to set up a Quarter-Finals showdown with the surprising Czech squad.



ITALY vs. UKRAINE: The Quarter-Finals first match was one of the tournament’s giants against one of its more recent top(ish) squads. History proved to carry too much weight in this match, however, as Italy defeated the Eastern European squad 3-1 to advance to their 3rd Semi-Finals in the last 5 tournaments. The 2028 winners – who were now looking to add a 4th title to their name – were impressive, although the Ukrainian team did make a good account for themselves in this match and in the tournament in general. RESULT: Italy 3 – 1 Ukraine

HOLLAND vs. DENMARK: Facing Germany in the Group Stages and Croatia in the Second Round, Holland had perhaps the most difficult road to the Quarter-Finals of any team in the tournament. Denmark were coming off of a huge Second Round victory over France and were looking to cause a second straight upset. It was not to be, however, despite fighting tooth and nail – the Dutch won 2-1 at the end thanks to Man United’s 32 year old midfielder Mike Van de Ven, who hit a brace that sent his nation to the Semi-Finals for the first time since 2032. RESULT: Holland 2 – 1 Denmark

GERMANY vs. SPAIN: In a match billed the ‘Finals before the Finals’, the record holder for most Euro titles (Germany with 5) lined up against the team had shared its record of 7 Finals – in other words, the two most decorated teams in the history of the European Championships faced off against each other in the Quarter-Finals of Greece 2044. It was Spain that walked out 3-1 victors against the 2032 and 2036 champions – this was the 3rd straight Semi-Finals appearance for the Spanish team. RESULT: Spain 3 – 1 Germany

CZECH REPUBLIC vs. PORTUGAL: The World Champions Portugal were expected to easily get by the Czech Republic and set up a meeting with Spain in the Semi-Finals. Not only are they current World Cup title holders, but they were also Finalists at Italy 2040 before being beaten by Greece for the 2nd time in the Finals, with the first being in 2004. The Czech Republic, who had not made it past the Group Stages since 2024, caused yet another shock during this tournament, defeating Portugal 1-0 after taking care of England in the previous round. This was their first trip to the Semi-Finals since 2004, where they also lost to Greece at the Semi-Finals stage. RESULT: Czech Republic 1 – 0 Portugal



ITALY vs. HOLLAND: After falling to Wales in their first match, Italy ran through their competition, defeating World Champions Portugal in their final Group Stage match and disposing of Slovakia and Ukraine in the Knockout Rounds. Holland could only take one win out of their 3 Group Stages matchup (drawing with Germany in their last match before the Second Round), and then went on to defeat Croatia and Denmark. With both teams carrying some of the world’s greatest footballers today, the matchup promised to be entertaining and exciting. As he has been throughout the tournament, Daniele Nardelli, Italy and Barcelona’s 31 year old winger, was the hero for his nation. The Italians took a tough 2-1 victory over the Dutch with Nardelli scoring his 3rd Goal and registering his 3rd PoM of the tournament to go along with his 3 Assists and team-high 7.77 AR from his 6 games. Unfortunately, he picked up and injury and his availability for the Finals was still unknown. The Spain 2028 winners were now just one match away from adding a 4th European Championship title to their portfolio. RESULT: Italy 2 – 1 Holland (extra-time)

SPAIN vs. CZECH REPUBLIC: Despite losing their first 2 matches to France and Austria, the 2036 Finalists (they lost to Germany on German home soil) righted the ship, defeated defending champions Greece in the Second Round and then claimed revenge of the Germans by knocking them out in the Quarter-Finals. The Czech Republic, who were last in the Semi-Finals in 2004, took care of both England and Portugal in the Knockout Rounds and were looking to advance past their 3rd straight ‘heavyweight’ team as they had their eyes on their first Finals appearance since 1996. They ran out of steam against the Spanish, however, as they succumbed to a 3-1 loss with Spain setting up a tantalizing Finals matchup in Athens against rivals Italy, a team they had played twice before in the Finals. RESULT: Spain 3 – 1 Czech Republic


SPAIN vs. ITALY: Not only had these two teams met twice in the Finals prior with Spain winning in 2010 and Italy in 2021, they were both chasing after their 4th title overall. In what proved to be one of the most exciting Finals in recent memory, Spain defeated the Italians after scoring 2 goals in added time to win 4-3, with Bayern Munich’s 23 year old striker Roy Williams scoring a sensational hat-trick in only his 3rd Cap for his country. Williams was also responsible for scoring the 2 added time goals for Spain, breaking Italian hearts all around the world in the most dramatic of fashion. The Spanish/Gibraltarian striker, who was an Espanyol player and came up through the Espanyol Youth Academy before being signed by the German team for £24.5M this summer during Greece 2044, instantly become a legend for his country. Spain grabbed its 4th title, becoming the tournament’s 2nd most decorated team after Germany, who have won 5 titles in their history.  







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On 27/04/2021 at 14:50, abulezz said:

He just signed - thank heavens! £325K per week for 5 years. 

Great news, I'm sure you can afford it :)

Happy to see Arsenal's CL reign come to an end, they are still crushing it in the league though, tough draw for you though but another solid season, hopefully Arsenal can reeled in a bit in a season or two.

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9 hours ago, Maw74 said:

Great news, I'm sure you can afford it :)

Happy to see Arsenal's CL reign come to an end, they are still crushing it in the league though, tough draw for you though but another solid season, hopefully Arsenal can reeled in a bit in a season or two.

They have been dominant for so long it was actually refreshing to see them NOT in a CL Finals!

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28 minutes ago, abulezz said:

Put in a request and it was accepted - doesn't have any financial implications as we now have over £400M in the bank but a bigger stadium = more epic team!



Getting to a decent size now!

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The Champions League Second Round draw is out! We get a nice tie against Feyenoord - the 1970 title winners have not been in the CL since before 2020 (not sure when) and they are currently 7th in the Eredivisie. Some big matches, too - Man City vs. Bayern Munich is perhaps the biggest as both team have had CL success over the last 10-15 years. Other interesting match-ups are Barcelona vs. Juventus and Arsenal will be up against a tough Porto side. AC Milan are looking for a return trip to the Semi-Finals but they'll have to get through Liverpool first. 



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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2044/45 – Second Round

Nights in the middle of February can only mean one thing – the return of the Champions League. This season’s Second Round featured its share of excitement and high-scoring matches, beginning with Sophara United’s emphatic 12-5 aggregate victory over Feyenoord. Scoring 6 Goals in each match, Sophara were led by its frontline of Niall Bayliss and Ben Gibson, who now have 12 and 10 Goals in the competition this season, respectively. Arsenal also continued on their trek to make it back to the Finals with their own strong victory over Porto (7-3 agg.) with Nikola Cvijovic hitting a brace in the First Leg in Portugal. AC Milan were denied advancing forward and squashed their dreams of a second straight appearance in the Semi-Finals by Liverpool, who did not participate in the competition last year but were Quarter-Finals the year before. Man City became the first English team to be knocked out of the Second Round after falling to Bayern Munich 3-1 on aggregate.  No such disappointment at the other side of Manchester as defending champions Manchester United defeated Ajax Amsterdam 4-2 over two legs, joined in the Quarter-Finals by Atletico Madrid, who won over Benfica in a tough tie. Barcelona became the second La Liga team to make it to the Quarter-Finals after defeating Juventus in a fun tie that ended 8-5 aggregate, with a hugely entertaining 4-4 draw in the second leg in Italy. The final team to make it through were German squad Leipzig, who defeated Ukrainian side Shakhtar to join Bayern Munich as the second Bundesliga team to qualify.

The Quarter-Finals tie sees Arsenal face off against the defending champions Man United in the round’s most intriguing and biggest matchup. The two German sides (Bayern Munich and Leipzig) face off against each other in an all-German affair that will guarantee a Bundesliga representative in the Semi-Finals. Sophara United face off against last year Semi-Finalists Atletico Madrid while Liverpool play Barcelona is a matchup for the nostalgic.



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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE 2044/45 – Quarter-Finals

LIVERPOOL vs. BARCELONA: The first leg in Liverpool ended with a victory from the host after a Rogerio Jose scored his 3rd goal of the tournament in the dying seconds of the match. Between these two teams, they have won 14 titles (Liverpool – 9, Barcelona – 5) but neither team had won one in the past 17 years since Liverpool won it back-to-back. Barcelona tried to break through during the second leg at home but a stellar Liverpool defense denied them more than one goal – the match ended 1-1, advancing Liverpool through to the Semi-Finals to face rivals Man United. RESULT: Liverpool 2 – 1 Barcelona

LEIPZIG vs. BAYERN MUNICH: The All-German matchup pitted 3rd against 1st in the Bundesliga, but it was the hosts (who are in 3rd) who came away with a tough 1-0 home win. Having been knocked out in the Second Round the last 4 times they have been involved in the competition, Leipzig’s only Finals appearance was in 2022 when they lost to Liverpool. Bayern Munich, on the other hand, has won the tournament 8 times, most recently in 2038 and 2040. After failing to qualify out of the Group Stages last year, they were back in the Quarter-Finals for the 4th time in the past 5 years. With Bayern Munich expected to bounce back in the second leg at home, they let themselves and their fans down as Leipzig took a surprising 1-0 away victory, ending Bayern Munich’s dream of capturing their 3rd time in the past 8 years. RESULT: Leipzig 2 – 0 Bayern Munich

SOPHARA UNITED vs. ATLETICO MADRID: Sophara United’s second trip to the Quarter-Finals – this time against last year’s Semi-Finalists Atletico Madrid – started out in strong fashion at home in London. Kurtis Thompson scored a 1st minute goal to set the tone and fellow Golden Generation member Tyler Craig finished the match off with the second goal in the 2-0 result. The Second Leg saw Carl Jones, Sophara’s former starting GK up until a couple of months ago when he sold to Atletico Madrid for £18M, start for his new club as the English club’s inexperience showed up at the worst time. Atletico Madrid dominated them to the tune of 5-1 at home, qualifying to their 2nd straight Semi-Finals appearance after an underwhelming showing in the first leg, setting up a matchup with German outfit Leipzig. RESULT: Atletico Madrid 5 – 3 Sophara United

MANCHESTER UNITED vs. ARSENAL: In the match everyone was waiting for, the defending champions took on the former ones at Old Trafford in the first leg, fighting it out to a 0-0 draw. Arsenal, who had made it to 8 consecutive Finals before falling last year at this stage to Man City, were the happier of the two teams with the result. They would not be during the second leg in London, however, as Man United took a 1-1 away draw, qualifying out of this rough and tough matchup on away goals, denying Arsenal the Semi-Finals berth and continued on their trek to the Finals to defend their title. The equalizer was scored by Man United in the 90th minute, adding drama to an already tense match and setting up a Semi-Finals matchup with another Premier League arch-rival in Liverpool. RESULT: Man United 1 – 1 Arsenal (Man United win on away goals)



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On 01/05/2021 at 10:17, abulezz said:

This is new! Wayne Breen came out as gay a few days ago (in my save), and then I got this message. 22 years later, and FM is still throwing pleasant surprises!



Just gay? Couldn't be be Bi, or Pansexual or something like that? :D

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The 2044/45 season was another successful one for Sophara United – the club finished in a record high 3rd Place, behind only the Top Two who continue to dominate both the Premier League and the Champions League. A “Golden Generation” has emerged comprised of Ben Gibson (26), Wayne Breen (27), Kurtis Thompson (26), Tyler Craig (24), and Niall Bayliss (24), all of whom are 3 years apart. It included GK Carl Jones as well, but he hit the club with a shocking request to leave due to not being happy with the rotation at the position with Welsh international Chris Davies and was thus sold in January for £18M to Atletico Madrid. Overall, the club qualified comfortably for their 4th straight Champions League appearance, and even though they scored less and registered less points, they still improved on their 4th Place standing from the last 3 seasons. Looking closer at the numbers, Sophara United recorded 6 losses, which was the least amount of game they have lost since joining the Premier League in 2036. The 74 Points were a drop (78 last season), as was the 86 Goals Scored, which was good enough for 3rd best offense in the PL but represented a significant drop from the 103 Goals Scored last season. The defense, however, improved to 12th best in the PL, as the team conceded 58 Goals, 4 less than last year. Ben Gibson was named 2045 PL Footballer of the Year, becoming the 2nd Sophara player in history to win the award twice, having first won it in 2041. He also won the Top Goalscorer award (32 Goals) for the 4th time, equaling Arsenal legend Thierry Henry’s record for most times having won it. He wasn’t the only Sophara United player to pick up an award – new starting GK Chris Davies became the 2nd Sophara player to win the PL Young Player of the Year award, with Ben Gibson having won it twice before him in 2039 and 2041. The starting strike force of Gibson and Bayliss also lit the Champions League on fire, and despite exiting out at the Quarter-Finals stage they were still the 2 highest goalscorers, with Bayliss having scored 12 Goals and Gibson 10 Goals.

As mentioned above, the big story of the year at the club was the same of GK Carl Jones. Having been the official starter for the club, he was no longer satisfied with his playing time, and despite his sale the manager remains one of his favorite people. The club also let Boubacar Diallo go for £10M to Turkish club Galatasaray as he had become surplus to requirements, which helped bring the club’s finances to almost £420M at the end o the season. The board also approved a £58M expansion of the stadium that will bring its maximum attendance level to over 53,000 for the first time in its history.









The Top Two continued to dominate the Premier League as they have done in recent years, but after two years of winning the title, Arsenal (2nd) conceded it to new champions Manchester United (1st), who have now won the last 12 titles between them. Sophara United (3rd) continued their impressive form, and it was their striker Ben Gibson who won both the 2045 PL Footballer of the Year award for the 2nd time as well as the Top Goalscorer award for the 4th time, equaling Thierry Henry’s record. Rounding out the Top Four was Tottenham (4th), who captured the last CL convincingly, finishing 8 Points head of Aston Villa (5th), who improved one spot and continued to impress. The other two Europa League spots when to Chelsea (6th) and Liverpool (7th) – who were beaten Finalists in the Champions League this year – with Nottingham Forest (8th) missing out on goal difference. Wolves (9th), who survived their return to the Premier League in strong fashion, and Fulham (10th), who dropped 5 Places from last year, rounded up the top ten. Man City (15th) had their worst finish in the Premier League since 2004 when they finished in 16th, dropping an unexplainable 12 Places this season from 3rd Place last year. Sunderland (18th) were the only newly promoted team to go back down to the Championship, joined by Sheffield United (20th), who survived only 2 seasons in the PL before heading back down, and surprising Everton (19th), who were last in the Championship during the 2027/28 season.

Highlight on ALASSANE N’DIAYE (Man United - Manager): The French/Senegalese manager was born in Limoges in central France and went on to have a playing career that lasted over 17 years, finally retiring in 2025 after a stint in Australia. His first job as manager came immediately afterwards with Stade Lavallois, leading them to the French National league title in his first year. After bouncing around a few clubs in France (including Saint-Etienne and Marseille), he took over as manager of Torino in in 2034 and would stay there for 8 years. After leading Torino to 5th Place in 2034/35, he was named the 2035 French Manager of the Year and the 2035 Serie A Managers’ Manager of the Year, the two biggest accolades he had received in his career at that point. He was sacked from the Torino job towards the end of 2042 and was subsequently hired by Dutch club Feyenoord shortly afterwards in 2043. After leading them to a 2nd Place finish in the Eredivisie in 2043/44, he was hired by Man United last July to replace the retiring Pep Guardiola. The decision to bring him on has been a total success – in his first year with Man United, he led them back to the Premier League title, won the Carabao Cup, and won the 2045 PL Manager of the Year award. The only blemish on an otherwise sensational first season with the club was the defeat to arch-rivals Liverpool in the Semi-Finals of the Champions League, a competition in which they were the defending champions. N’Diaye is now considered one of the hottest managers in the world and many swear by his technical know-how.






For the first time in 5 years, the Champions League crowned a champion that was not from the English Premier League, although the defeated Finalists Liverpool were. The newly crowned champions were surprising Leipzig, whose only other trip to the Finals was in 2022 were they were beaten by, incidentally, none other than Liverpool. The German team defeated the last German team to win the title in Bayern Munich in the Quarter-Finals before defeating repeat Semi-Finalists Atletico Madrid 5-3 over two legs. Liverpool, who finished in 7th in the Premier League and will not be participating in the CL next season, ran through a who’s who of juggernaut teams, defeating AC Milan in the Second Round, Barcelona in the Quarter-Finals, and then the former defending champions Man United in the Semi-Finals. Niall Bayliss (12 Goals) and Ben Gibson (10 Goals) of Quarter-Finalists Sophara United (they fell to Atletico Madrid) were the 2 leading goalscorers as the English club were one of the most exciting teams to watch in the competition this season. Leipzig, the new champions, did not have any stand-out performers but had strong defenders who were able to control (somewhat) dominant attacking forces on the way to the their first ever Champions League title.






At the beginning of the January window, the club were hit with a shock transfer request from starting GK Carl Jones as he announced his desire to leave the club. The request stemmed from the fact that the manager was using a rotational system at the GK position in order to give ‘Wonderkid’ Chris Davies (’40 – Wales: 29 Caps) playing time to further aid his development. Unhappy with his shared playing time, Jones submitted his request directly the manager and was subsequently sold at the end of January to La Liga club Atletico Madrid for £18M. This left Davies as the full-time starter for the club, and he went on to capture the 2045 PL Young Player of the Year award after registering 1.54 Con/90, 4 PoMs, and 7.61 AR in 24 Games. Already considered a star player for his nation, Davies is also considered to be one of the world’s global superstars and possibly the highest rated GK under the age of 21 on the planet. Carrying a 5/5 PA and having earned himself a new 5 year contract that will pay him an astonishing £240K per week, Davies is now the club’s undisputed No.1 and will likely remain so for years to come.





 The fullback positions continue to be a problem area for the club – while the starters are decent, the back-up talent doesn’t belong in the Premier League and has made both the positions very shallow in terms of depth. On the right, Chris Parry (’39 – Wales: 13 Caps) lost his position with his nation but remained the club starter for the second straight season. He registered a career-high of 6 Assists and improved from 6.74 AR last season to 6.78 AR this year, also recording 3.32 TpG in his 34 Appearances. Considered one of the strong leaders on the team, the manager confirmed his status as the team’s starting RB next season during his exit interviews. While not especially inept defensively, his speed and physical play help him maintain an acceptable standard of form. He was reported as a Championship-level player, but the Sophara staff have stated they believe he can continue to improve and become of a Premier League level. Now 22 years old, he publicly suggested he hoped that he could represent his country again in the near future.

On the other side, the LB starting position remained the property of Pablo Cobo (’38), Sophara United’s only Spanish player in its history. The 23 year old had a decent season, improving from 6.81 to 6.86 AR, while also equaling his career-high of 5 Assists in 30 Appearances. He injured his groin twice this year, however, which ruled him out of close to 2 months of action. Having now played 234 League Games with the club over the past 7 years, Cobo is in line to remain the starter next season as no one has yet challenged his position. Although his defensive skills are not too bad, the official coaching report from the Sophara United backroom staff have him rated as League One/Championship level player. That being said, he is a smart and consistent player, having registered over 6.80 AR over the course of the last 3 seasons. He is never going to be considered for his national team and he will probably never be one of the top LBs in the PL, but given that he is not a liability down the left flank and seems to make important and crucial tackles often, the manager seems to be content with his performances and form.






After having a disappointing Greece 2044 campaign last summer with Ireland, vice-captain Wayne Breen (’33 – Ireland: 77 Caps/3 Goals) also took a step back with the club – after 2 straight seasons with 6.90+ AR, he registered 6.81 AR this season in 34 Appearances. That was his lowest number since the 2040/41 season but right on the mark for his career average, which is also 6.81 AR. The 27 year old has now made 335 League Appearances and is entering the prime of his career despite what is most likely an off-season for the otherwise dependable and consistent CD. His high football IQ and leadership make up for his relative lack of passing ability – he is actually known to be one of the smartest players on the pitch in the league. He became the first Sophara United player ever to publicly come out as gay this season and has stated how happy he was at the club. Going forward, there is a general consensus that Breen is going to finish his career as an absolute legend of the club. An imposing figure at the back since the mid-2030s, the slow but steady transformation of the club’s defense from bad to fairly good has been done under his leadership and is a core reason for the club’s continued success in the league. He is considered to be part of Sophara United’s first Golden Generation, which includes Ben Gibson, Kieran Christie, Arinze Mbah, Kurtis Thompson, Tyler Craig, Niall Bayliss, and Carl Jones.

Alongside him was Eoin Hastings (’38), Sophara’s very own 22 year old CM turned CD. Despite not having the conventional tools for the position, the experiment has been relatively successful, both for the club and the player. A solid starter for Sophara now, Hastings played in a career-high 33 Games, registering 1.35 TpG, 84% Pass Completion, and 6.85 AR, up from 6.77 last season. His form still wasn’t quite as good as his career season 2 years ago (6.94 AR) but the latest scouting report on his says he is considered a good player in the Premier League. He has probably hit full development in terms of physical and technical abilities but has shown a strong willingness to try to be more of a leader as he matures. His value is now has now hit around £25M, but expectations on his have begun to damper a little bit – he is no longer called the ‘next Bobby Moore’ anymore. There was a lot of hype around him and fellow ’38 Youth Class graduate Xavier Maddison, and while Hastings is developing a nice career, neither have lived up to expectation. That being said, the manager does believe that Hastings can become one of the greats for the club at the back if he can get his determination to do better and win up.

There were 3 players backing up the CD position this year, with Lionel Wilkins (’42) playing the most – he appeared in 11 Games (10 Starts) but registered a disappointing 6.64 AR after hitting 6.81 AR last season. This was his 3rd season with the club and the second since he made his debut so expectations for good form is not high, but the dip was worrying enough that the manager started playing rookie Nikos Dimosthenous (’44) towards the end of the season instead. Wilkins, who is 19, got all the reassurance he needs that the club is behind me as he was offered a new 5 year contract that will pay him £35K per week. The 16 year old rookie Dimosthenous played in 4 Games (2 Appearances) and his talents have intrigued a lot of experts and scouts. He came out of the Sophara Youth Academy with 3.5/5 PA, but that how now shot up to 5/5 PA. The report on him says his attitude is great and that he is a determined, focused individual who showed tremendous improvement in his first year. He will definitely be on people’s radar next season as he can also play LB, much like his teammate Aminu Amoako (’41 – Ghana: 2 Caps), who became the first ever Sophara United player to represent Ghana. He definitely has not developed as many hoped he would coming out of the Youth Academy, but the 20 year old CD (who is equally comfortably playing LB) did well in his 12 Appearances (8 Starts), registering 4.07 TpG, 85% Pass Completion, and 6.95 AR. He actually registered 7.10 AR last season but it was only in 6 Games, with the 12 he played this season being a career-high. The manager has been tight-lipped about the rotation behind the starters next season, but it will be interesting to see how earns more playing time over the other.










The sensation known as Anthony Wise (’43 – Northern Ireland: 11 Caps/5 Goals) did not let up after a much talked about rookie year, building on it in both form and reputation and winning the 2045 NxGn award after capping off a really good season. With the promise of getting called-up (and playing) to Greece 2044, Wise has committed to Northern Ireland at a young age despite the popular opinion that he is good enough to play for England. He became the youngest player ever in the history of the European Championship to score in a match, scoring against Russia in the first match of the Group Stages. A starter since his rookie year, he improved on it this season, registering 5 Goals, 7 Assists, and 6.81 AR, up from 6.69 AR last year. The ‘Wonderkid’ is already one of the most exciting players in the PL, earning himself a new contract that will pay him £79K per week that was signed at the end of the season. There was some concern around his passing and vision abilities when he first made his debut, but he has made such incredible progress (+8 improvement in Vision) that he has actually become one of the most exciting passers of the ball in the PL. He will still be 18 at the start of the new season but there will be the burden of increased expectation. One of the most exciting players to emerge in recent years not only at Sophara United, but in England.

Luckily, Wise has a great role model playing with at CM in 32 year old Nigeria and club legend Arinza Mbah (’28 – Nigeria: 94 Caps/5 Goals), who again was a core member of the team that made its 2nd consecutive African Nations Cup Finals, this time losing to underdogs Guinea. The oldest member of the team and the Sophara First Golden Generation, he has been with the club since its League Two days, making 517 League Appearances so far. This was his finest of the 17 seasons he has been with the club, however, as he registered a career-high 6.98 AR and again led the Premier League with 6.34 TpG. He dropped from 1st to 3rd with 145 Tackles Won, however, but the main reason for that was that he only played in 25 Games. Born in the town of Dutse in northern Nigeria (southeast of Kano), he has overcome critics and doubters and has become of the most feared midfielders in the league thanks to toughness on the pitch. A complete model citizen in the locker-room and off the pitch, his attitude has allowed to continue to improve despite his advancing age, registering a career-high 91% Pass Completion this season. His contract runs out next year but both player and manager have publicly stated their desire to continue seeing the player at the club.

Mbah’s primary backup was Jason Anderson (’41), but the 19 year Welsh CM had a terrible season after showing potential last year. Playing in 11 Games (7 Starts), his 6.55 AR was a big drop from the 6.79 AR of last season, and while he hasn’t had any issues or drama he is known to be volatile and confrontational. His playing style has been compared to teammate Tyler Craig (who is actually a winger), but the personalities are opposite as Craig is known as a level-headed person. Sam Martin (’39) played in 25 Games (4 Starts) backing up both Wise and Mbah, registering 6.74 AR, 2 Assists, and 2.77 TpG. At this point, the expectations for the 22 year old midfielder – who was considered a potential future English international at one point – have died down, but he is still a talented player with a nice role to play at the club. The most exciting of the back-ups, however, is rookie Chavez Straker (’44), who made his debut and played in 8 Games this season. His 6.47 AR tells the whole story on how that went, but there is no denying his ability with the ball at his feet and his passing skills. He has shown fantastic progress in training and his development as a player has been noticeable. Look for him to eat into the available playing time behind the starting midfielders next season. 









An undeniably, world-class talent, Kurtis Thompson (’35 – Wales: 48 Caps/ 26 Goals) has had to deal with injuries nearly his entire career, a fact that has perhaps inhibited him from becoming a true Tier-1 superstar. The injuries are an issue, however – for example, from July 2044 (after a disappointing European Championship campaign with Wales in Greece), he has picked up a total of 8 injuries and a cold. Thankfully, none of them were major but they were still frequent enough for him to only play in 30 Games and that was actually an improvement over last season’s 26 Games. He also played better – he registered 8 Goals, 11 Assists (his 4th straight season of 10+ Assists), 5 PoMs (equaling a career-high), and 7.11 AR, which was his highest in 3 years. He has yet to recapture the highs of his 2041/42 season – and he may not again depending on the severity of his injuries going forward – but he maintains his reputation as one of the world’s leading left wingers, with his value officially being listed as £70M. He is 26 years old so theoretically he should be entering his prime years and he part of the First Golden Generation who is both a star for his club and country – if he can have a couple of injury-free seasons going forward, that would be of a huge benefit for his club.

Tyler Craig (’36 – England: 28 Caps/9 Goals) might not carry the same worldwide reputation as his partner on the other flank but the 24 year old right winger is a star in his own right. Although this was probably his least impressive season since 2038/39 – the last time he was under 7.00 AR – he was still a crucial member of a team that finished in its highest ever position and a crucial member of the First Golden Generation. Both his 6 Goals and 8 Assists were his lowest in 7 years but the manager stated that he had no doubt Craig will be back at his best next season. He is one of the highest paid players on the team, earning £250K per week, while his value is estimated to be close to £45M. He can play naturally down either flank and he has developed a tendency to flow in and out of games, but when he is on he seems to connect on passes very few can and is responsible for dangerous runs down the lines. Next season will be his 10th full season with the club despite his relatively young age and is now just one game away from hitting 300 League Games with the club.

Tosin Okeye (’36), who is also a graduate of the ’36 Youth Class like Craig, continued to be the first name off the bench for the manager this season, embracing the super-sub moniker. He wasn’t where he was last season (7.05 AR dropped to 6.79 AR), and from his 28 Appearances he only had 4 Starts, but he still contributed 2 Goals and 5 Assists while making several dangerous runs down the right flank. The manager gave him a new contract last summer that pays him £63K per week, so he is obviously an important member of the rotation. Born in Mile Oak near Brighton to Nigerian parents, he is eligible for the African nation if he so chooses, but the 25 year old has refused to commit to playing for Nigeria as of yet. The other backup, this time for left-wing, is Hugo Good (’44), who came from the Sophara Youth Academy amongst much fanfare last year and was called ‘possibly the most talented player of his generation’ to come out of the Youth Academy. He has been called the ‘next Harry Kane’ and there are comparisons to Ben Gibson in his game, although the speed aspect is obviously missing. He had a pretty decent rookie year, playing in 14 Games (5 Starts) and registering 1 Goal, 2 Assists, and 6.80 AR. Whether he is better suited as a forward or a winger remains to be seen, but what was evident is his natural ability in the air. He is 1.88 meters tall and could make a terrific forward if he can work on his stamina and get a bit faster.  








Despite what was a disappointing Greece 2044 campaign for both the player and country, Ben Gibson (’34 – England: 80 Caps/63 Goals) delivered what might have been his most impressive season yet in 2044/45. Already considered one the world’s finest strikers and players, the 26 year old took his game up one more notch and joined the ever elusive 30 Goals/10 Assists/10 PoMs club. In 35 Appearances, he scored a league-leading 32 Goals to go with his 11 Assists, career-high 10 PoMs and equaling his career-high of 7.47 AR. He won the Kafra Player of the Year award for the 5th time and is now second only to Mark Connor, who won the award 9 times. More impressively, he collected nearly every individual award the PL had to offer this season – he won the Top Goalscorer award for the 4th time equaling Thierry Henry’s record, the PL Footballer of the Year for the second time and was named to the PL Select for the 4th time in his career. He was named to his 2nd Champions League Dream Team and won its 2045 Forward of the Season award, the second time he has done so, after coming in second in the Golden Boot to teammate Niall Bayliss with 10 Goals. He broke Sophara United’s record after registering 13 total PoMs this season and is fast approaching 300 League Goals scored in his career – he is currently at 269 Goals. With his value at around £85M, he is one of the top five highest valued players in the world currently, but he recently committed to the club with a new contract that will expire in the summer of 2049 and which pays him a club record £325K per week. Undeniably the greatest talent the Sophara Youth Academy has ever produced – and at this point its safe to say he is the club’s new GOAT – Gibson still has his prime years ahead of him and is the focal point and foundation of Sophara United’s First Golden Generation.

His partner in crime up front, Niall Bayliss (’37), has still inexplicably not earned a Cap for England yet, despite a sensational season last year (35 Goals in the PL) and another very strong season this year in which he led the Champions League with 12 Goals from 10 Games and registered 7.81 AR in the competition. In the Premier League, he scored 19 Goals (down from 35) and registered a career-high 10 Assists to go along with 3 PoMs and 7.14 AR (down from 7.49 AR) in 34 Games this season. Yes, this season was not as impressive as last year’s own but the 24 year old striker – who is considered the youngest member of the Sophara First Golden Generation – has had his value balloon up to £55M and has become known as an ‘Icon’ of the club. Described as a ‘Pace Hitman’, his runs down the wing or up the middle are truly a sight to behold – rare can one find a defender that is capable of stopping him when he is running at full speed. The Slough-born striker’s only criticism is his lack of aerial ability, but the question marks around his attacking movement and technical abilities have long since subsided. He has been the perfect partner for Gibson and their connection on the pitch has been fantastic – he has publicly stated that he believes his partnership with Gibson up front has been one of the core reasons for the club’s record success.

The emergence of Bayliss specifically has relegated former World U21 Player of the Year Kieran Christie (’32) to first choice striker off the bench – just 3 seasons ago, he had scored a then new PL record of 35 Goals. Injuries and Bayliss delivered a fatal blow to any chance of a season like that happening again, but Christie has remained an integral part of the rotation and the Sophara First Golden Generation group. The 29 year old is probably never going to get a call-up to represent Scotland at the international level, although several members of the Scottish media have been clamoring for that to happen for years. Regardless, he is without a doubt a Sophara United legend in every way and is easily one of the greatest players to ever don the uniform. The only player older than him on the squad is Arinze Mbah, and it is safe to say that the club’s promotion from the Championship to the Premier League in 2036 would have not happened if it wasn’t for the season Christie had then. In 457 League Appearances, he has registered 231 League Goals and 105 Assists, numbers that should steadily increase as he settles into his role as the first name off the bench for the club.











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The ’30 Youth Class turned out a number of rotational and role players but no real stars. The most prominent name from the intake is Max Newton, who was one of Sophara United’s most important defensive players for most of the 2030s and early 2040s. When the ’30 Youth Class was first introduced, a lot of buzz was created around Mohammed Boateng, who was deemed ready to play immediately at the CM position. He was, by a wide margin, considered the gem of the class, but sadly his career didn’t quite pan out the way it was expected to. Newton and Boateng were the only 2 prospects to have 5/5 PA, with the former carrying 1/5 CA and the latter 2.5/5 CA at the time they came up from the academy. Boateng spent only 2 seasons with the club before being sold for a then club record of £5.75M to Sheffield United, who were playing in the Premier League at the time, during the summer of 2032. The player who ended up playing the most for Sophara United after Max Newton was left winger Daniel Boniface – the former England U19 international spent 10 years at the club in total and was even a starter for a couple of them.




ALSO PLAYED FOR: Sophara United


One of the two hyped prospects from the ’30 Youth Class, Newton spent 14 years with Sophara United before moving to Wolves for £500K last summer. He joined the main team from the Sophara Youth Academy in 2030 but it wasn’t until the 2031/32 season that he made his debut – however, during the club’s League One title run in 2033 and Championship title campaign in 2036 he was already the team’s starter at RB. He would continue to be the starter at that position throughout the 2030s and into the early part of the 2040s. In November 2040, Newton suffered a catastrophic broken leg injury that limited him to only 16 Games that season. No one knew how well he would be able to bounce back, but following season he showed his toughness by playing in all 38 Games. With the emergence of Welsh RB Chris Parry cutting into his playing time, Newton met with the manager and asked to be able to transfer clubs to continue playing starter minutes. Just after the end of the 2043/44 season, he was sold to Wolves (also in the Premier League) where he spent last season and registered 6.91 AR in 13 Games. Although his days as a starter for a club at the Premier League level are done, he is considered a leader in the locker-room. Having played 435 League Games for Sophara United, he is very much ingrained in the club’s history.







ALSO PLAYED FOR: Sophara United, Sheffield United, Newcastle, Parma, Beerschot VA (loan), Crystal Palace (loan), Swansea (loan)


A lot was made about the talents of Boateng when he broke the League One record for youngest player to appear in a match in 2030, a couple of months later became the League One record holder for youngest player to ever score in a match. He only spent two seasons with Sophara United before the board decided to cash in on him by selling him to Premier League club Sheffield United for a deal that ended up costing £5.75M. In his first year with his new club, he won the 2033 European U20 Elite League with England and the Papa John’s Trophy with Sheffield United. He would spend a total of 7 years with the club but would only play for them 14 times throughout – he spent 3 different seasons on loan with 3 different clubs and none were memorable. In 2039, he was bought by Newcastle for £1.4M, where he would spent 3 years before going out on loan to Parma during the 2040/41 season. Despite being relegated to the Serie B that season, Parma liked what they saw and ended up Newcastle £7.25M to retain his services permanently. He would help his new club win promotion back to the Serie A with his best ever season in 2041/42, registering 7.05 AR from 35 Games and was also named to the 2042 Serie B Team of the Year. He spent one more year with Parma before being sold to another Serie A club in Pescara for £7.5M, where he is now starting his 3rd season after finding his form and happiness in Italy. While he never lived up to the hype created around him in his teenage years, he has gotten his career on track and is now approaching 300 League Games in his career.






ALSO PLAYED FOR: Sophara United, Plymouth, Doncaster


Although not much fuss was made about Boniface’s talent or potential when he first came out of the Youth Academy, the left winger ended up spending 10 years with Sophara United, delivering some fine seasons as a starter and a role player. He made his debut during his rookie season in 2030/31 and was one of the team’s most important players during their League One title winning season in 2032/33. His two best seasons came during the club’s first two years in the Championship, where would register 12 and 11 Assists in back to back seasons. It was after the club was promoted to the Premier League that Boniface started finding playing time scarce, and in the summer of 2040 he was sold to Plymouth for £200K. In his first year with his new club, he played in 37 Games and registered a career-high 7.26 AR, helping them win the League Two title while being named to the 2041 League Two Team of the Year. He spent one more impressive year with Plymouth before joining another League One side in Doncaster on Free, where he also spent 2 years as a starter, registering 6.86 AR in both. After being relegated to the League Two in 2044, he left on Free to join his current club Notts County, winning promotion to the League One this past season. An overachiever and always capable of surprise, Boniface played in 191 League Games for Sophara United before moving on, and has now played in a total of 356 League Games over the course of what has turned out to be quite a nice career.





Four players are currently still playing football, with Aaron McMullan probably having the best career out of them. The former U21 Northern Ireland international has now played in 424 League Games, all of them in his home country as he never suited up for Sophara United. He left his development club after 3 years in 2033 and since then has played for 4 different clubs in the Danske Bank Premier League – Larne (8 seasons), Glenavon (3), Dungannon (3), and is currently starting his 2nd season with his Institute. The LB has a career average of 6.91 AR, having become of the Northern Irish league’s most prominent left-backs over the past 10 years. Irish left winger Keith Doolin, who also never played for Sophara United and left the club after 3 years, is currently starting his 6th season with Galway United in the Irish First Division after spending time with Mansfield (2033-36) and Morecambe (2037-2040), both in the Vanarama North. In his 256 League Appearances, he has registered 6.76 AR career average. Still playing football is CD Nicoli Goodridge, who left Sophara United in 2034 and has been with lower league side Biggleswade Town since and is now starting his 12th season with the club. He is considered an ‘Icon’ for the club as he has now played in 377 League Games with a 6.87 AR. He is their current Player of the Year, an award he has won a record 7 times. The last player still producing on the pitch is GK Alfred Wilson, who is starting his 4th season with Maidstone in the Vanarama South. He spent 4 years at Sophara United before leaving in 2034, joining Vanarama South side Slough on Free and becoming their starter. The for U23 Jamaican international then left the club and joined Colchester in 2038, also on Free, but the League Two proved too tough for him and after 4 years he left and joined his current club. He has lost his starting spot but remains their first choice back-up GK, having made a total of 250 League Appearances over his career with a 6.87 AR.  

There are also three players who are having a go at becoming backroom staff since hanging up their boots, with the most prominent of them being Haig Ashley-Seal. He spent 8 years with Sophara United, playing in 31 League Games before making a £4.6M move to Blackburn in the Championship during the summer of 2038. He played for Luton and Coventry before retiring in 2045 and is now looking for a job as a Director of Football. Also looking for a similar position is Paul Martin, who played only 1 Game with Sophara United before moving on in 2036. He actually ended up having a good 3 seasons with Kidderminster afterwards, scoring a total of 43 Goals and registering around 7.05 AR with the Vanarama North club before joining Shelbourne in 2039. He stayed in Ireland until he retired in 2044, also playing for Cork City and Waterford, but his first season with Shelbourne was his most memorable – 34 Apps, 16 Goals, 7.11 AR. Steven Pritchard is looking for a more manager-based job, having retired in 2044 after spending 6 years with Chippinham, 2 with Cefn Druids, and 2 with Llanelli Town, the last two being in the Welsh Premier League.
















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