The Year of the Underdogs

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If it’s a battle between a kung fu pro vs an average Joe who do you think will win? Here’s a hint, choose the underdog!

It’s not the first time an unexpected person, treated as a participant and not the winner kind has surprised us all rational thinking people. It’s happened before, like the time Buster Douglas defeated the great Mike Tyson or the time Greece won the European championship in 2004. The time when Ireland won the t20 world cup; don’t act surprised Ireland has not won the t20 world cup ever but wouldn’t it be amazing if they did! There is a certain joy to the element of a rookie beating the pro. These are spectacles that we admire and cherish because they are rare. Underdogs win, but they do so once in a blue moon on a dark starry night. Well, that hasn’t been the case this mystic year because this has been a year where there have been underdogs after underdogs, wins after wins and surprises after surprises.

It started with the Denver Broncos winning the prestigious super bowl in an upset and gave way to the Cleveland Caviliers coming back from an unreachable 3-1 deficit. That’s a comeback you don’t see often.

Then came the holy grail of all the underdog stories with the Leicester City winning the English Premier League. This is the most flabbergasting stories of all. Now this team had been in the relegation battle the year before they won the league. Yes they came 14th on the table fighting for a position in the bottom half to stay in the premier league for another season and boy was that some fight towards the end of the season where they strung a few unlikely wins barely managing to stay in the league.

But this season Leicester City changed the head of managerial functions and gave it in the hands of Claudio Ranieri, a manager who perhaps has revived his dying career with this amazing feat. It’s a team with the most humble players not the kinds to be considered as game changers or the strokes of genius, a team with a lineup that would be discarded by the pundits on the mere glimpse of it, competing against the teams who are filled with football stars, big names and big buys from all across the globe. The season started with the odds of Leicester winning the league being 1 in 5000, someone betting 5 bucks for Leicester then would be an owner of 25000 now.

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But the gravitas lies in the way the team played, they were rock solid in their defense and electric in their counters, a team packed with speedsters ready to put in an extra mile in for the team, and of course they had a huge factor of play on their side, they were the “underdogs”. Teams took them lightly in the start and had to pay heavy for the complacency. That said let’s not take away the amazing performances they showed on the football pitch, they played mighty well, showing confident skill on the ball and sharp defending off it. It’s the story of rise of a small football club in England, a season that will be remembered in longevity.

It’s always amazing to see teams which are usually underrated perform well, it brings a change from the garden-variety everyday. A stir so to say in the pool of ordinary when the sediments those normally settle on the bottom of the pool rise up to the surface for once to showcase their beauty

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England vs Iceland, a match that could easily be written off in favour of England at start, but fighting the odds the Icelanders ended on top of the three lions. Not that it’s important to mention but here is a fact, England’s coach made $4.6 million a year, while Iceland was co-coached by a part-time dentist!. A set of synchronized claps done by the players and the spectators together, an amusing way to indulge the audience, the clap has already been copied once by the French team on winning the semifinal and I’m sure it would also be done by the clubs around the globe in the time to follow.

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Apart from the delight of seeing them win the Iceland football team gave us another source of delight, their celebration, the Viking clap.

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Portugal defeating France, it’s the final of a big tournament. On one side there is France who are the favorites with massive wins and a flurry of great players behind them, and then there is Portugal on the other side who managed to secure hard and effortful previous wins going into extra time and penalties, they did have a star player C. Ronaldo and a few other names but dwarf when compared to French national team.  To add to the worries of Portugal the starlet Ronaldo got injured and substituted in the 17th minute of the match. Yet the Portuguese stood firm in defense and waited for their chance, and they capitalized to the one they got in the extra time at the 109th minute making them the champions and lifting the European championship cup for the first time.

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There were other events that unfolded in a surprisingly underdog oriented way this year like the defending champion and the top seeded tennis player Novak Djokovic knocked out of Wimbledon in the third round by Sam Querry who is ranked at the 29th spot in world tennis. Be it Wales beating Belgium football team, which is the best ranked European team currently. Another and a very recent event is Pakistan winning the test match at Lord’s, defeating England in their backyard, a tremendous result for an ever recovering Pakistan cricket team.

It unarguably has been a year for the underachievers the ones that are sometimes deprived of the importance they deserve, the world’s grinders, who get it done each day but never win much of anything. The year hasn’t finished yet, it’s an year for us, a chance to prove that we can be best at what we do no matter how the world perceives us. It’s the year of the underdogs.

About The Author

Himanshu Sharma

Himanshu Sharma (UILS, PU Campus)

I’m a law student, studying in UILS, Panjab University, currently in my second year. A football lover, enjoy watching the game and an ardent Arsenal FC fan

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