Evergreen players and 'anti-Invincibles'
Norman Hubbard is ESPNsoccernet's resident anorak. If you have any questions on football facts, statistics or trivia, please send them to email@example.com and he'll try to answer as many as possible.
Giggs is United's record appearance maker, and has also played the most games for an elite English club, going past Steve Perryman (854 for Tottenham) and Ian Callaghan (857 for Liverpool) recently. As of February 28, Giggs had played 605 league games for United, one short of equalling Sir Bobby Charlton's club record. A further target is Perryman's record of 613 top-flight appearances for one club, though the Spurs man also played a further 42 games in what was then Division Two.
However, there is a one-club man who is still some way ahead of Giggs and who holds a record at English clubs: John Trollope played 889 times (770 league) for Swindon between 1960 and 1981.
Go abroad and the most I am aware of, certainly at top clubs, is one of the many achievements of the remarkable Paolo Maldini, who appeared no fewer than 902 times for AC Milan in official first-team competitive games. Factor in Maldini's 126 Italy caps and he topped 1,000 appearances.
Both the English and the world record for appearances in first-team football are held by Peter Shilton. The former England goalkeeper, whose total of 125 caps is also a national record, played 1,005 league games and 1,237 in all competitions for Leicester, Stoke, Nottingham Forest, Southampton, Derby, Plymouth, Bolton and Leyton Orient.
While it is not a record, one of Giggs' contemporaries also merits mention and ensures that the Welshman is not the most experienced player who is still active: Burnley's club captain, Graham Alexander, made his 950th club career appearance in their FA Cup defeat to West Ham. Include his 40 Scotland caps and the 39-year-old is very close to joining the thousand club.
My friends and I were discussing teams that were promoted into the Premier League and then relegated immediately. One of them mentioned that in no season has a promoted team not being relegated. I seem to remember a year when Fulham (with coach Jean Tigana and the young Louis Saha), Blackburn and Bolton were promoted, and all three stayed on and continue to do so. Is this correct? And is there any other year that all three promoted sides have continued in the Premier League? Ajit from New Delhi asked
It is indeed correct and thus far it is unique. Fulham (as champions), Blackburn and play-off winners Bolton were promoted together in 2001. Not only did they all avoid an immediate return to the Championship, but this is a tenth successive season in the Premier League for each club. Should Newcastle, West Brom and Blackpool all stay up, it would be only the second time all three promoted clubs had stayed up.
With all the talk about the possibility of Man United being "the Invincibles" [before they lost to Wolves] this season, I wonder if there has been any team that has lost all their league matches in one season? If not, what about a team that did not win a single match all season instead? Kelvin from Singapore asked
Not in English professional football. The anti-Invincibles were the 2007-08 Derby County team, who managed a solitary win (1-0 against Newcastle) and took a mere 11 points from their 38 games.
Which are the two closest top-flight stadiums (distance-wise) in the world? The closest I could find were Anfield and Goodison Park, Aashish wrote
The distance between Anfield and Goodison Park has been measured at 960m. Two closer grounds - which although no longer staging top-flight football have done in the same seasons in the past - are Nottingham's City Ground, home of Forest, and Meadow Lane, where County play, which are 418m apart. Dundee's Dens Park and Dundee United's Tannadice are 282m apart, although Dundee are no longer in the SPL.
I believe that MTK Budapest and BTV Elore play in stadia that are right next to one another, although Elore are not in the top division at the moment. According to stadioncheck.de, whose statistics I am quoting, there is only 202m between the Rhein-Neckar Stadion, home of Hoffenheim, and the Carl-Benz Stadion, where Mannheim play, though the latter aren't in the Bundesliga.
That means that the closest I am aware of are Independiente's Estadio Libertadores and Racing's Estadio Juan Domingo Peron in Buenos Aires, apparently 375m apart, and both in Argentina's top division.
Have more English or Spanish clubs won the Champions League? someone asked
Two clubs from each country have won the competition in the Champions League era, but La Liga nevertheless comes out on top. England has three victories - two from Manchester United (1999, 2008) and one from Liverpool (2005) to Spain's five: Barcelona's victories in 2006 and 2009 and Real Madrid's three (1998, 2000 and 2002).
Include the competition's days as the European Cup and different conclusions can be drawn. England has four winners - Liverpool (five times), Manchester United (three), Nottingham Forest (two) and Aston Villa - to Spain's two. However, Real Madrid (a record nine) and Barcelona (three) have a grand total of 12 European Cup or Champions League wins to the 11 the English clubs can muster between them.