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Unveiling Football's Mind-Boggling Mysteries: From Kane's Penalty Prowess to Ajax's Kit Secrets

It turns out that conspiracy theories are not only popular among historians and political scientists but also find a place in football. On the social media platform X (formerly Twitter), a dedicated account called Football Conspiracy Theories collects the most popular and sometimes absurd thoughts about the game. We've taken some of them and investigated how close they are to the truth.

Harry Kane never misses a penalty

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The Englishman does have phenomenal penalty statistics. Kane has taken penalties 80 times, with 69 attempts successful (a success rate of 91.2%). Only 11 times has Harry missed, with the last failure occurring a year ago in the semi-final of the 2022 World Cup when England lost to France with a score of 1-2.

Interestingly, this is the only match in which Kane's team lost due to a missed penalty. In other matches, the national team or Tottenham played to a draw or emerged victorious. In Bayern, Kane took penalties four times, and all four were successful. So, even such a master occasionally misses.

Arsenal and Crystal Palace only play each other on Monday evenings

It seems that no English pair has played as many matches against each other on Mondays. But, truth be told, this only happens sometimes. In the last 13 games, it has occurred only three times.

There is a similar theory at the national team level: Belgium and Wales play against each other every international break. Kevin De Bruyne even said, "I feel like half of my international career, I played against Wales. I don't know why. It's tiring. I played against them 12 times; it's always the same team." Kevin could have played against Wales only nine times – the number of games Belgians played against the Welsh from 2012 to 2022 in qualifications for major tournaments, in the Nations League group, and in the Euro 2016 quarter-final.

Liverpool always plays the first match of the season against Championship teams

Surprisingly, this is true. The only exception was the current season: Liverpool started the league against Chelsea. In previous seasons, they started with Fulham, Norwich, Leeds, and again Norwich. A remarkable coincidence.

Erling Haaland never scores with his head

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Despite his physique, Erling prefers to put the ball into the net with his feet and avoids the traditional "heading" style. However, he frequently scores with his head – in the 2022/23 season alone, he scored eight goals with this body part. In the current Premier League campaign, the Norwegian has already scored three headed goals.

Eder's only career goal was scored in the Euro 2016 Final

Fans of Russian football might argue that Eder scored not one but two goals in his career – in the Euro 2016 final and in a golden match for Zenit against Lokomotiv Moscow. But there was also a beautiful bicycle kick against Baltika Kaliningrad in the Cup and a goal against Salzburg in the Champions League.

Before Euro, the Portuguese was considered an average forward, suitable as a substitute option but not a regular starter due to a lack of consistency. Nevertheless, considering the forward issues in the country, Eder patiently waited for his minutes and managed to play 35 matches for the national team, scoring four goals. He wasn't included in the Euro squad just for show; six months before the tournament, he scored in friendlies against Italy, Norway, and Estonia.

Ajax releases the same kit every year

That is not entirely true. The home jersey undergoes small but still noticeable changes every year. Fonts, collars, and sometimes the pattern separating the red and white colors are altered. In the 2021/22 season, Ajax took an interesting approach, playing in an old-school kit without names on the back. Although UEFA disapproved of this idea, they adhered to modern rules in European competitions.

By the way, in 2014, Adidas sponsors developed a fantastic PR campaign for the new kit. They staged a prank, inviting several Ajax players and coach to the office and showing them fake jerseys. One had a lion print, and the other was in rainbow colors. Blind, coach De Boer and others were shocked. In general, take a look at yourself.

Manchester United loses every weekend but still reaches European competitions

This applies to the current season. There is such a hostile atmosphere around Manchester United, as if the club is losing one match after another. But before the 17th matchday, the team is in sixth place with seven losses, trailing six points behind the top four. How is this possible?

The absence of drawn results may contribute to this perception. United either loses or wins (with the recent exception of a 0-0 draw with Liverpool). Due to the minimal number of victories in matches against top teams, which are closely monitored by almost everyone, it indeed creates the impression that United loses every game. However, the club looks decent against mid-table teams in terms of results (ignoring the quality of play), and there are many more matches against them than against solid teams.

Published by Patrick Jane