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9 of the worst footballing chokes in the history of the game

1 France’s 1994 World Cup qualifying campaign

Eric Cantona, Didier Deschamps, Jean-Pierre Pain, Laurent Blanc and Marcel Desailly were all part of France’s greatest footballing choke. But it was David Ginola who was made the scapegoat for France’s failure to qualify for the 1994 World Cup.

France were second heading into the final qualifying game against third placed Bulgaria, knowing a point would be good enough to reach the tournament. But, with the game tied at 1-1 and 90 minutes played, Ginola spurned the chance to run down the clock, Bulgaria stole the ball and scored. For his mistake Ginola was labelled ‘the assassin of French Football’.

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2 Man United’s 1994/95 Premier League campaign

There haven’t been many more dramatic seasons in United’s history than 94/95, especially with Eric Cantona booting a Crystal Palace fan in the face, recieving an 8 month ban for his troubles.

But the goals of Andy Cole, signed in January, put United in place to win the league heading into the final game of the season. Given the nature of the article, you can probably guess what happened next. United drew 1-1 with West Ham and Blackburn were champions, crowning a trophyless season for Sir Alex Ferguson.

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3 Newcastle’s 1995/96 Premier League campaign

Fifteen games remaining with a 12 point lead. Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle side had the league sewn up. Keegan even splashed out on Faustino Asprilla from Parma to get the Toon Army over the line.

But a rejuvenated Man United, powered by Eric Cantona’s return, set a blistering pace in the second half of the season, pushing Keegan to the point of breakdown. Look up ‘choke’ in the dictionary and you’ll probably find Keegan’s ‘I will love it if we beat them’ rant.

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4 Bayern Munich’s 1999 Champions League final loss

When Peter Schmeichel starts coming up for corners you know it’s desperate times. Bayern should have been clear winners in the final with Mehmet Scholl and Karsten Jancker both hitting the woodwork.

Then came *those* corners and before Bayern could say Vorsprung durch Technik Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had turned the game around, leaving Sammy Kuffour beating the ground in despair.

Sammy-Kuffour

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5 Real Madrid’s 2003/04 galacticos

The galactico era was in full swing with David Beckham boosting the ranks of a side already boasting Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos and Spaniard’s Iker Casillas, Raul and Guti.

With half the season was gone Madrid were sailing. But a Champions League quarter-final exit at the hands of Monaco and five successive losses La Liga’s run in meant the side could only finish fourth.

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6 The miracle of Istanbul

You would struggle to hand-pick a better midfield than the one that lined up for Milan in the 2005 Champions League final. The craft of Kaka, Clarence Seedorf and Andrea Pirlo and the guile of Gennaro Gattuso combined for a sublime engine room. And it looked like being too much for Liverpool as Milan charged to a 3-0 half-time lead.

But Steven Gerrard inspired an immense comeback, aided by Milan’s players conspiring to simultaneously choke. Andriy Shevchenko must still have nightmares about Jerzy Dudek’s heroics.

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7 Italy’s 2010 World Cup campaign

The Italians headed to South Africa as reigning world champions, placed in the ‘Group of Life’ alongside Paraguay, Slovakia and New Zealand.

But, despite having the likes of Gianluigi Buffon, Daniele De Rossi, Andrea Pirlo and Fabio Cannavaro, Italy said arrivederci to the tournament without winning a game following two draws and a loss.

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8 Man United’s 2011/12 Premier League campaign

With six matches of the season remaining United were eight points clear and cruising to another title under Sir Alex Ferguson. But they couldn’t stop throwing points away, conceding a 4-2 lead against Everton to draw 4-4, and losing the Manchester derby 1-0 to allow City back in.

Even after the final whistle had gone in United’s last game, against Sunderland, it looked like they had done enough. But Sergio Agueroooooooooo popped up to dash United hearts and paint the city Sky Blue.

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9 Liverpool slip up in the 2013/14 title race

Imagine where Brendan Rodgers, Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling would be if it wasn’t for Steven Gerrard’s slippy studs. Liverpool were five points clear with three games to go before a loss to Chelsea and a draw to Crystal Palace effectively ended any title hopes.

Now Suarez is banging in goals at Barcelona, Sterling is the most expensive Englishman, Gerrard is seeing out his career in Los Angeles and Rodgers is, well, who knows?

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WATCH: Not even Ronaldo could inspire Real Madrid’s 2003/04 side