Fulham reach the brink of European Success

“Craven Cottage, Fulham FC” by Tom Cuppens is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

While sitting 18th in the Premier League with only two wins, Fulham announced Roy Hodgson as their manager for the remainder of the 07/08 season.

A run of twelve points from the last five games in the campaign, would play a huge factor in the survival of Hodgson and his club.

Their avoidance of relegation would be confirmed on the final day in a 1-0 win away to Portsmouth.

“File:Chris Smalling 07-02-2016 1.jpg” byhttps://www.flickr.com/photos/cfcunofficial/ is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

With the 2008/09 season approaching, Hodgson brought in many new faces, including Zoltan Gera, Mark Schwarzer and Chris Smalling all on free transfers alongside the signing of Bobby Zamora from West Ham.

The Englishman’s first full season in charge would prove to be a fantastic one, finishing 7th, Fulham’s highest ever finish in the top-flight.

Alongside this tremendous achievement, the Cottagers secured a Europa League qualifying spot.

Fulham kicked off their European campaign with a 6-0 aggregate win over Lithuanian side FK Vėtra and then a 3-2 win over the two legs against Russian club FC Amkar Perm in a play-off tie.

The Lily Whites were by no means given an easy group. Alongside Roma, Basel and CSKA Sofia, Fulham finished 2nd with three wins from six.

“2014-04-12_Fulham11” by Ungry Young Man is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Perhaps Fulham’s greatest result and most memorable match from their European run is when they came up against Italian giants Juventus in the last 16 of the tournament.

With a 3-1 defeat in the first leg away from home, things did not look good for Fulham, however, they will have been extremely pleased with how well they had done so far.

In a packed Craven Cottage, Fulham’s European dreams started to slip further away as two minutes into the match Juventus took the lead through French striker David Trezeguet.

Refusing to give up, Fulham replied on nine minutes with a goal from Zamora.

“Bobby Zamora” by nicksarebi is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The home side then took the lead in the 39th minute when Gera Smashed the ball into the net from very close range.

With 49 minutes on the clock, Fulham grabbed a third through Gera, who doubled his tally with a goal from the spot, putting the team all square on aggregate.

The decision to bring Clint Dempsey on as a sub would prove to be an excellent one as the American scored a wonderful, chipped effort, putting the underdogs ahead for the very first time over the two legs.

With the final score 5-4 on aggregate, Fulham had achieved an unbelievable comeback, knocking out the Italian giants and they progressed to the quarter finals.

Two fantastic wins against VfL Wolfsburg saw Fulham come up against Hamburg in the semi-final.

Hamburg arrived in London for the second leg of the tie after a 0-0 draw in Germany left everything down to this match.

22 minutes in and a thunderous free kick from Croatian Mladen Petric left Schwarzer with no chance, putting the German side ahead.

Fulham’s confidence was certainly affected by this goal and half time could not have come quick enough.

The second half saw a much better performance from the London side, however, the goal did not look like coming.

Fulham’s persistence would eventually pay off when goals from Simon Davies and the previously mentioned Gera gave them the lead, leaving the German club stunned.

“Craven Cottage Stadium” by tearbringer is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Craven Cottage erupted at full-time. Fulham were in the Europa League final.

What a turnaround from when Roy Hodgson first took over.

The final would be played in Hamburg, between Fulham and Spanish side Atlético Madrid.

In this highly contested final Madrid would take the lead with 32 minutes on the clock through Uruguayan Diego Forlan.

It would only take Fulham five minutes to reply when Davies’ half volley beat David De Gea in the Madrid goal.

The final would go on into extra time, where Atlético would have the better of the chances.

“Diego Forlan” by George M. Groutas is licensed under CC BY 2.0

That man Forlan popped up again in the 116th minute with what would prove to be the decider, crowning Atlético Madrid the winners.

Although the result will not have been what Fulham were after, the players and everyone involved at the club will no doubt be delighted with what they achieved during this incredible run.

This is undoubtably one of the greatest and surprising European runs of the Premier League era.

Roy Hodgson transformed the London side, and they were a joy to watch at times.

The fight that the side had was impeccable. Every game they fought till the end and that was a massive factor in their success in Europe.

“Roy Hodgson, Fulham Manager” by nicksarebi is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Where are they now?

Mark Schwarzer

Schwarzer went on to have spells at: Leicester City and Chelsea.

The keeper overall played for five Premier League clubs. Although the majority of his teams were known more for being nearer the bottom end of the table, he has the 3rd most Premier League clean sheets.

The Australian is now found doing punditry for many football shows and is a presenter for Optus Sport.

Chris Baird

Baird went on to have spells at: Reading, Burnley, West Brom and Derby.

During his time at Derby, he re-joined the Cottagers on loan for a brief spell.

The versatile Irishman racked up a total 79 caps throughout his career.

He now works as a scout at Southampton, tasked with finding the next big thing to come through their academy.

Aaron Hughes

Hughes went on to have spells at: QPR, Brighton, Melbourne City, Kerala Blasters and Hearts.

The former Jambo was awarded an MBE in the 2020 New Year Honours for services to football.

He is currently going through the UEFA MIP Programme, where former internationalists can learn more about the administration and management of football.

Brede Hangeland

“Carlos Tevez, Argentina & Brede Hangeland, Norway” by Frederic Jon is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Hangeland went on to have a spell at: Crystal Palace.

Spending six years at Fulham the centre back was a legend at Craven Cottage.

Hangeland can now be found covering the Premier League for Norwegian channel TV2.

Paul Konchesky

Konchesky went on to have spells at: Liverpool, Nottingham Forrest, Leicester City, QPR, Gillingham, Billericay Town and East Thurrock United.

The left back had a few spells in coaching with both West Ham and Billericay Town.

He can be found occasionally commentating on Premier League games.

The Londoner also owns a café called Konch’s Kafe, known for selling East London delicacy i.e., Pie and Mash.

Damien Duff

“Damien Duff and his brother Sergeant Gerry Duff visit the troops of the Irish 106 Battalion in Tibnine Lebanon” by Óglaigh na hÉireann is licensed underCC BY 2.0

Duff went on to have spells at: Melbourne City and Shamrock Rovers.

The Irishman moved into coaching, with roles at Shamrock Rovers, Celtic and latterly, Republic of Ireland.

When talking about his time at Celtic, Duff said: “It was the best year-and-a-half of my sporting life, and I include my football career in that”.

Duff is now focusing on spending more time with his family.

Dickson Etuhu

Etuhu went on to have spells at: Blackburn Rovers, AIK and IFK Rössjöholm.

After an unsuccessful spell at Blackburn, he moved onto AIK, where his first three starts came in the domestic cup. The midfielder would be yellow carded in all three of these games.

In 2019 Etuhu was found guilty of match fixing and was later handed a five-year ban from Swedish football.

Danny Murphy ©

“Danny Murphy” by wonker is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Murphy went on to have a spell at: Blackburn Rovers.

In the midfielder’s last season at Fulham, he created more goal scoring chances than any other topflight player.

Murphy can now be found regularly on Match of the Day and talkSPORT.

Simon Davies

In 2013 Davies returned home to play for boyhood club Solva AFC.

He is now assistant manager to Matthew Etherington at Peterborough U18s.

Zoltán Gera

Gera went on to have spells at: West Brom and Ferencváros.

The Hungarian remains a popular figure at West Brom and is seen as one of their top players in recent times.

Gera is currently head coach of Hungary U21’s.

Bobby Zamora

Zamora went on to have spells at: QPR and Brighton.

The former striker is an Ambassador at Brighton.

He also coaches alongside other top former players with Football Escapes where they provide top quality coaching along with some of the finest holiday resorts around the world.

In his free time Zamora loves to fish. He has certainly not let retirement make him lazy and can often be seen training his body hard on social media.

Clint Dempsey

“Clint Dempsey on the ball” by jimculp@live.com is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Dempsey went on to have spells at: Tottenham and Seattle Sounders.

The American works together with Street Soccer USA, a company looking to lift children out of poverty through football.

Since his retirement Dempsey is also enjoying spending time fishing as well as being around his family more.

Jonathan Greening

Greening went on to have spells at: Nottingham Forrest, Barnsley, Tadcaster Albion and York City.

Although he never featured in the final Greening was part of the Man United squad that somehow managed to comeback and win the Champions League final in 1999.

Greening had a spell as a coach at York, and now works alongside best mate and former teammate, Richard Cresswell at i2i International Soccer Academy.

Erik Nevland

Nevland went on to have a spell at Viking.

Having retired Nevland left football completely and became a car salesman.

However, has more recently started working at Randaberg IL, a small Norwegian club.

Roy Hodgson

Hodgson went on to have spells at: Liverpool, West Brom, England and Crystal Palace.

The Englishman has certainly moved around a lot as a manager. He has had extremely successful spells in both Sweden and Switzerland.

He is also held in extremely high regard amongst figures at Inter Milan.

Former owner of the Italian giants, Massimo Moratti once said: “Roy Hodgson was an important person in the development of Inter Milan to the point we have reached today. He saved us at the right time. When he came, we were in trouble and things appeared dark. He didn’t panic, he was calm and made us calm. Disaster was averted at the most important time. Everyone at Inter will remember him for that and his contribution. He is considered by us all as an important person in our history. He left an endowment to this club that’s important in our history”.

Hodgson is currently at Crystal Palace, in the 2018/19 campaign they finished on 49 points, their highest ever points tally in a single Premier League season.

This European run will always stay fondly in my memory. The comeback against Juventus is and always will be one of the most surprising and incredible turnarounds from a two-leg tie.

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