37 + 73 = 1-0 in the Cup
Unhappy with being forcibly uprooted when the Baseball Ground was built in 1885, a group of travellers placed a very specific curse on Derby County: that they would never win the FA Cup. The magic was strong. Between 1895 and 1909, the club reached no fewer than 13 semi-finals, only to lose them all. When they eventually made the final in 1946, club skipper Jack Nicholas took drastic measures, crossing a traveller’s palm with silver in a bid to end the curse. It worked: the Rams won 4-1 after extra time. Curse gone.
Brazilian club Atletico Mineiro were led to the Copa Libertadores title last season by superstitious eccentric Alexi Stival, known as Cuca. The unlikely success was built on a series of unusual pre-game rituals, from the team bus not engaging reverse gear on the way to the stadium to not eating animals that can walk backwards, such as chickens. To supplement these bizarre practices, Cuca usually wears a shirt with an image of the Holy Mary under a coat as well as bringing an altar to the dressing room for every game.
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