Straight from the dugout
Once upon a time there was a season of football with a fairytale at every turn. There is not enough room in this magazine, even a year of this magazine, to detail every unbelievable or unlikely narrative that played out this year.
Leicester City is the tale that everyone knows of course – and within that incredible story lies layer upon layer of redemption and improbable achievement. Claudio Rainieri's validation as a coach, ultimately acknowledged against the side whose owner once told him he would never win the title. Jamie Vardy's incredible rise from obscurity to the nation's elite. Riyad Mahrez's resurrection from the reserves at Le Havre (alongside Melbourne City's Harry Novillo) to the top level of European football next season. And Harry Redknapp's demand for skipper Wes Morgan to be called up to the England side – despite having represented Jamaica 29 times! At home we had Adelaide United playing out their own against-all-odds movie script. After eight games they were deadset last in the A-League, the worst team in Australia, and most had tipped new boss Guillermo Amor for the chop by Christmas. Fast forward to May 1 and Adelaide are Premiers and Champions after an astonishing mid season unbeaten run that saw them clinch the Premiership on the final weekend of the season. John Aloisi overcame initial doubts about his appointment at Brisbane Roar to take his side within a whisker of the grand final. After the calamitous start to his coaching career at Melbourne Heart – with a side continually blighted by injury – the chance to see him shine was an absorbing feel good story. But he still needed to play Devante Clut more... Sydney's Ali Abbas came back from serious injury to score within minutes of his return to the field (similar to Danny Welbeck's triumphant return to Arsenal after his knee injury) while Melbourne Victory's Jai Ingham scored on debut in the Champions League. Around the world, Celtic saw 16 year old Jack Aitchison, their youngest ever player, score with his first touch, while Pep Guardiola continued his epic career to take Bayern Munich to a record fourth consecutive Bundesliga title, while Juventus took 73 points from 75 in the last half of the season to claim their title after being in 11th spot in November. In Spain, the fairytales were queuing up for three-times Europa champions Sevilla, Champions League finalists Atletico and Zinedine Zidane's incredible run as a rookie coach at Real Madrid. And look, what did I tell you - we've run out of room! But will we all now live happily ever after?? Roll on next season to find out...