The term hipster is defined as someone who is progressive in an unconventional way but is stylish and cool.
In football we have all come across individuals and especially teams that have, for a brief period made the fans and the viewing world sit up and take notice. These hipsters have left us some fond memories that will forever remain in our football memory as long as we follow the game. I often reminisce about a few hipster teams that gave me delight and ecstasy and reminded me and all of us why football truly is a beautiful game.
There are lots of teams that have mesmerized us but I will be talking about a select few that caught my eye. I start off by talking about Parma, a side that boasted the likes of Buffon,Thuram,Cannavaro,Veron,Crespo and won the UEFA Cup and Coppa Italia.
They challenged the big names and rode their way into the hearts of football lovers and looking back, we can only wonder what they would have given us in the future had they stayed together. Instead as so often happens the core base of the squad moved on to greener pastures. They had a team of legends that could only be described as a dream team boasting of top class defenders, midfielders and forwards along with quite possibly the best goalkeeper of the modern generation.
In 2000 and 2001 a team from Spain, coached by Hector Cuper shook the European power houses by reaching two consecutive Champions League finals. That side was a non fashionable Valencia who turned Claudio Lopez, Pablo Aimar,Gaizka Mendieta,Santiago Canizzares into household names. They played fearless football and took on the big guns of Europe at the biggest stage beating them and reaching two finals only to fall short at the final hurdle. They had a mix of skill, flair, eccentricity and steel that made them reach new heights. Looking at the current state of Valencia one can only recall the glory days of yore.
In 2002 it was the turn of Bayer Leverkusen who accomplished an unique if somewhat unwanted feat of losing the league on the last day, losing the German Cup final and the Champions League final. However no one ever wrote the script which saw this team accomplish these wonderful feats.
A team that had Oliver Neuville, Michael Ballack, Carsten Ramelow, Bernd Schneider, Lucio, Ze Roberto, Hans Jorg Butt and were coached by Klaus Topmoller beat the fancied Manchester United in the Champions league semis and played cool football along the way. That team were the challengers to the throne who could not quite keep their nerves when it mattered. But they gave us a chance to appreciate the underdog who can always surprise you when you least expect it. They served a reminder that once in a while even the predictable fare that is European football can showcase a twist.
If there is one team that has always given us hipster moments it has to be Monaco. Back in 2003-04 they announced their arrival in delightful fashion beating Deportivo 8-3 in the Champions League group stages, beating Real Madrid on away goals in the quarters, Chelsea in the semis only to lose to Jose Mourinho’s Porto in the finals. They supplied stars like Dado Prso, Patrice Evra, Ludovic Giuly,Sebastian Squillaci and were coached by a passionate Didier Deschamps. Again in 2014 they had a team that were decimated because they had sold their top stars like James Rodriguez and Falcao. Yet their unknown coach Leonardo Jardim took youngsters like Antony Martial, Yannick Ferrera Carrasco, Layvin Kurzawa and turned them into household names beating Arsenal in the round of 16 in the Champions League only to lose his prized possessions the following year.
Once again this season he has given us a new batch of fresh faced lions like Bernado Silva,Kylian Mbappe,Thomas Lemar and others who are tearing it up in the league and Champions League defying almost every expert in the process. They are a club that has no qualms selling their prized assets since they are so confident that they can keep the youth conveyor belt running and that is why they are so admired by the football fraternity.
The most popular hipsters on this list have to be Juergen Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund who came out of financial ruin and then captured two consecutive Bundesliga titles and reached the Champions League final in 2013. I had never heard of a guy called Robert Lewandowski and yet he has become a diamond. The likes of Kagawa, Reus, Goetze, Hummels became household names and one can simply marvel at the fact that Klopp picked these gems out from a magic vault and made them a cool outfit that played a smash mouth fast paced style of football.
Even though the Man Utds, Barcas and Madrids of the world draw the most crowds and adulation I always look forward to seeing the arrival of the new hipster who will captivate the hearts and minds of football fans for a short period of time before the same old routine fare takes over. It is like stepping away from the mundane and predictable and getting to watch a fairytale and that is what makes football so special. Let’s wish for a few more hipsters.