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Football's Famous Curses You Can Break in Football Manager

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Explore football's famous curses in Football Manager, from Benfica's European heartache to the Neverkusen curse of Bayer Leverkusen.
Football's Famous Curses You Can Break in Football Manager

Overcoming the Unseen Adversaries in the World of Football


Football is a sport of heroes, myths and legends, but sometimes also curses. Managers will shred their brains trying to come up with new signings, tactics and styles to win it all, there are times when it seems like something otherworldly is at work to prevent these clubs from finally achieving their goals. While many have tried and failed, these are some footballing curses you can try and break on Football Manager.

The Curse of Bela Guttmann - Benfica


Let’s start with the granddaddy of them all, Benfica’s legendary bad mojo. The story changes depending on which source you read it from, but the gist of it is simple. Legendary Hungarian manager Bela Guttmann led the Portuguese giants to back-to-back Portuguese titles and then broke Real Madrid's monopoly on the European Cup in 1961.

However, after he went on to repeat the title in 1962, he asked the board for some prize money and was denied. This led to a fallout, after which Guttmann resigned in anger and (supposedly) claimed that "not in a hundred years from now will Benfica ever be European champions." It’s been over 60 years since, but the alleged curse is still going strong. Despite having some amazing teams since then, Benfica have been unable to repeat their European success, losing an incredible five European Cup finals in 1963, 1965, 1968, 1988 and 1990. The curse even seems to extend to the “lesser” UEFA Cup and Europa League titles, where the Eagles have fallen at the last hurdle in 1983, 2013 and 2014.

The Curse of Bela Guttmann - Benfica

Since the departure of Guttmann, Portuguese football have lost their preeminent place in UEFA football, so reclaiming the trophy now known as UEFA Champions League won’t be a quick challenge, but a very rewarding one for any prospective Benfica managers.
 

The Curse of Zidane - Italian National Team


Footballing curses aren’t limited to the good old days, sometimes, they are cast in full-colour TV. The day was July 9, 2006, and most TVs on the planet were tuned to the World Cup final. There, in front of the eyes of millions, Zinedine Zidane decided to close his career on arguably one of the most infamous moments in World Cup history, when he headbutted Italy’s Marco Materazzi and was subsequently sent off in his last ever game.

The Italian played his cards magnificently, as his efforts to trash-talk Zidane out of the game trash worked, and the Azzurra won the World Cup. However, since then, Italy not only failed to defend the title, as they bowed out of the 2010 World Cup in the group stage, but also fell at the same hurdle in 2014 and then proceeded to fail to even qualify in 2018 and 2022.

Zidane may not have openly cursed Italy like Guttmann did to Benfica, but the Italians have certainly lost their mojo after their “ill” win in Germany. With a lot of promising talents and some of the Euro 2020 winners in their squad, it can be a fun challenge to bring an end to the French maestro’s vendetta and bag Italy their 5th star.
 

The Curse of Garabato - América de Cali


Benjamín Urrea, also known affectionately as Garabato, was one of the founding members and players of the Colombian team América de Cali. He came at odds with the rest of the board in 1948 when he was the only one opposed to the professionalisation of the team. Before leaving the board meeting where the decision was made, he cast his curse: “Make whatever you want with the team … but, by God, America will never be champion”.

Believe it or not, his words would ring true as América would finish runner-up twice but never lift the trophy until, in 1979, Garabato met members of the team's board of directors at that time. They held a mass on the grass of the Pascual Guerrero stadium in which a document was signed officially declaring a renewed team, and the curse was ended. That same year, America would win the Colombian professional soccer title for the first time.

Yet, it may not have been truly lifted. América have won titles, but they’ve failed to conquer the continent of the same name. The Diablos Rojos (Red Devils) have reached four Copa Libertadores finals in 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1996 and lost all of them, leading some fans to claim that the curse is still going strong. Surely a great job for a manager to give Garabato, who passed away in 2008, some peace.

The Curse of La Corregidora - Querétaro Fútbol Club


More often than not, it’s a particular club, player or manager that faces a curse, but when it comes to the Curse of La Corregidora, it’s a stadium that seems to have supernatural forces working against it, and it has affected not one club, but six clubs.

The Estadio La Corregidora de Querétaro was built in the city of the same name in 1985, part of the works for México to host the 1986 World Cup. After that, it was used as the home ground for the local club, the Club Cobras de Querétaro. Playing at La Corregidora, Cobras would be relegated in 1987 and later cease to exist in 2005. Atlante Fútbol Club moved there in 1990 and would see relegation the same year, as did Querétaro FC in 1994, TM Gallos Blancos in 1995, Halcones in 2001 and even the current Querétaro team, who lost their First Division status in 2007 and 2013, while playing at the stadium.

The Curse of La Corregidora - Querétaro Fútbol Club

It’s been alleged since that the ground was built on top of an old cemetery and that the souls of the deceased, cheated of the promise of eternal rest, have sworn revenge on the teams who play there. While Querétaro is now established as a Liga MX team, they are yet to win a league title. Perhaps they only need the right manager to lead them to glory so even the wretched souls can join the party on Dia de los Muertos.
 

The Curse of Neverkusen - Bayer Leverkusen


Curses can be cast by an angry manager, a disgruntled member or even the dead, but sometimes curses just appear out of thin air. For the 2001-2002 season, Bayer Leverkusen looked like a favourite for the 2001-02 Bundesliga. With just three games to go, they held a 5-point lead over second place in the league, they were in the final of the DFB Pokal and could crown it all with their first-ever Champions League. Things would, however, unravel in an incredible fashion.

First, two defeats against Werder Bremen and Nürnberg, combined with victories for Borussia Dortmund, saw them drop back into second place in the league. A win in the final matchday left some chances alive, but Dortmund came back from 0-1 down to claim the title by just a single point.

A week later, they had a shot at redemption in the German Cup against Schalke 04. However, things did not improve; despite taking an early lead via Berbatov, they were unable to hold the lead and the match ended in 4-2, as the 35,000 Leverkusen fans in the Berlin Olympiastadion were left in disbelief.

Still, few things can fix absolutely every pain as winning the Champions League. In front of Leverkusen were Real Madrid, who had struggled all season long. However, the Merengues aren’t the kings of Europe for no reason. Just 8 minutes into the game, they were already up on the scoreboard, and even when 5 minutes later the Germans recovered with a header taken for a foul on Ballack, Zinedine Zidane scored one of the most famous goals ever to negate Leverkusen yet another title. It would take a fantastic manager to beat perhaps the biggest curse in football and win a historic trouble for Bayer Leverkusen and bury once and for always the Neverkusen tag.
 

Conclusion


While the reality of these curses is debated, they add an extra layer of intrigue and challenge to Football Manager. Every club has its legends and myths, and overcoming these infamous curses could be your greatest achievement as a manager. Do you have what it takes to break the unbreakable and write your name in the annals of football history?

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FM Blog | FM24: Football's Famous Curses You Can Break in Football Manager
Football's Famous Curses You Can Break in Football Manager
Explore football's famous curses in Football Manager, from Benfica's European heartache to the Neverkusen curse of Bayer Leverkusen.
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