When Miguel Rosa and Filipe Ferreira scored the two goals that enabled CFF Belenenses to beat Sporting Braga 2-1 in January, an audible sigh could be heard amongst the scattered faithful in Estádio do Restelo. Since a 2-0 win over Olhanense on 5th October last year, the dark blues had not tasted victory in the league. A real sense of drama and foreboding had begun to fall over the club that hauled itself so impressively back into the Portuguese top flight last season, after a brief three year spell in the wilderness of the Portuguese second tier, the sparsely populated and little followed Liga da Honra. That Alan brought Braga back into the game with a sumptuous goal worth taking a long and repeated look at (Youtube clip?) only heightened the tension, but the home side held out for the much needed tonic of three points and a widening gap with the Superliga's bottom two, Olhanense and Paços de Ferreira. Since then, the fires of passionate belief have once again been snuffed by defeat on Madeira
The general consensus amongst experts in the history of British football is that its pivotal moment came on the 25th of November 1953. England’s abject humiliation at the hands of a technically and tactically superior Hungarian side sent shockwaves through the game, forcing a long overdue re-evaluation that would culminate in World Cup triumph in 1966.
When it became clear after the World Cup draw that both England and the US would play games in Manaus, England manager Roy Hodgson instantly showed promising verbal form by explaining the problem with Manaus was "the tropicality" (a word actually already invented a generation ago by Brazilian singer Caetano Veloso; could Roy, who really is a man of unexpected depths, actually have been making an oblique reference to Caetano's great hit "Tropicalia"?).
Some would call it intuition, an assumption based on past experiences; others would credit neurons calculating trajectories at the speed of light. Whatever it was I knew, I just knew – as soon as the ball was struck – that ball was going to not only nestle in the net, but also consign Longford Town to another season of toil in Ireland’s second tier.