It has been a year packed with tension, drama and no shortage of controversy - Goal looks back at the words of wisdom that made headlines across the football world
Some are amusing, some are touching, some are controversial, while some are downright bizarre. All of them, though, made headlines around the footballing world. So, sit back and enjoy, and be sure to let us know if we've missed any crackers in the space provided at the foot of the page ...
"At half-time I reiterated to the referee that it was not safe to play in these conditions. Didier Drogba said it was the same thing for both teams, but I pointed out it wasn't, because we were trying to play football.”
- Juventus may have been beaten by Galatasaray on a mud patch in December but Bianconeri boss Antonio Conte certainly won the war of words afterwards.
“We want football players - not fashion models. Last year he had more hairstyles than goals.”
- In ruling out signing Kevin-Prince Boateng, Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho underlines that he always favours brawn over beauty.
“We beat a team that is no more than a group of buddies who were rejected because they couldn’t play rugby in New Zealand, and they had no choice but to switch to soccer.”
- Real Madrid legend Hugo Sanchez endears himself to a nation by arguing that it would be a mistake to get too excited by Mexico routing the All Whites 9-3 on aggregate in their World Cup inter-continental play-off.
“Luckily, I have my wife and two kids. If left alone in Blackburn, I'd have already hanged myself.”
- Former Blackburn Rovers defender Gael Givet rules himself out of the running for a job with the Lancashire Tourist Board.
"Faus is a person who does not know anything about football. He tries to run Barcelona like a business, but this is a football club. Barcelona are the best club in the world and should also have the best directors in the world.”
- Lionel Messi decides against letting his football do the talking for once and sparks panic at Camp Nou by publically attacking vice-president Javier Faus.
"Lothar was very busy dealing with women over the last few months. Now he deals with players of Bayern Munich. Maybe he changed his area of hunting."
- Bayern president Uli Hoeness suggests that Germany icon Matthaus should stick to sorting out his private life, after the former midfield ace claims that Borussia Dortmund's Robert Lewandowski is bound for Bavaria.
"We are not a supermarket but they want our players because they know we cannot pay them the same money. If that's what Bayern wants ... It's like James Bond – except they are the other guy."
- Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp in-no-way subtly implies that Bayern are the villains of German football.
"We were looking through his playlist in the dressing room - there was lots of Justin Bieber, Jonas Brothers and Selena Gomez ... It is nice to know that even David Beckham doesn't have good taste in everything."
- Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic reveals that his former fashion icon of a team-mate is not so cool after all.
“I had great qualities and if I had worn the jersey of Juventus, Milan or Inter, perhaps I’d have won the Ballon d’Or. With all due respect, if Pavel Nedved won it ...”
- Faustino Asprilla reminds everyone that he hasn’t lost his penchant for courting controversy by disregarding all due respect for Pavel Nedved.
|HE IS ZLATAN
"Who'll win between Portugal and Sweden? Only God knows ..."
"It's difficult to ask Him...No, you're talking to Him now."
- Zlatan proves with this wonderful exchange with a reporter ahead of his nation's World Cup play-off against the Seleccao that while he might not be the Messiah, he is a very arrogant man.
"One thing is for sure, a World Cup without me is nothing to watch, so it is not worthwhile to wait for the World Cup."
- Ibra underlines that the game's biggest tournament will be a poorer place for the absence of the game's biggest mouth.
"I don't need the Ballon d'Or to know I'm the best. It matters more to some players ..."
- The Swede dismisses the significance of the game's most prestigious individual accolade. The fact that he's never won it had nothing to do with it, of course.
“After a perfectly normal challenge, Ibra turned to me and provoked me, making a joke about my moustache, saying, ‘That really is terrible.’ I responded by saying that he should think about his nose.”
- Sacha Kljestan puts Ibra in his place after going face-to-face with the striker during Anderlecht’s 1-1 draw with Paris Saint-Germain at the Parc des Princes.
|TIT FOR TAT
"One has more expenses for the hairdresser than the other."
- Fifa president and long-time foot-in-mouth disease sufferer Sepp Blatter makes headlines once again after being asked to compare Cristiano Ronaldo with Lionel Messi.
"This video shows clearly the respect and consideration that Fifa has for me, for my club and my country. Much is explained now. I wish Mr Blatter health and a long life, with the certainty that he will continue to witness, as he deserves, the successes of his favourite teams and players."
- Ronaldo's impressively cutting reaction on Facebook.
“He thought he was Peter Pan. Nobody is.’’
- In one of several barbs aimed at Roy Keane in his autobiography, former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson claims the Irishman mistakenly felt that he was impervious to the ravages of time.
“I remember having conversations with the manager when I was at the club about loyalty. In my opinion, I don’t think he knows the meaning of the word.”
- In a wholly unsurprising development, Keane immediately bites back, querying why the Scot felt the need to slam so many of the players that had served him so well at Old Trafford.
"I bet my arse Bayern will ask Pep for help against Barca."
- Dortmund Klopp argues that the Bavarians would seek out the help of their then incoming coach ahead of their Champions League semi-final clash with the Blaugrana.
“Klopp’s arse will end up in our museum."
- Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge gives a brilliantly terse reply.
"I don't like comparisons with Pele because of the stupid things he says. He keeps on saying stupid stuff when he takes the wrong pills."
- Argentina icon Diego Maradona, who never says anything stupid, reopens his long-running feud with Brazil legend Pele.
"Shinji Kagawa is one of the best players in the world and he now plays 20 minutes at Manchester United - on the left wing! My heart breaks. Really, I have tears in my eyes."
- The always emotional Klopp wells up while discussing the plight of former Borussia Dortmund star Shinji Kagawa at Old Trafford.
"The fans feel betrayed. The comments Mario Gotze made in the recent past [about wanting to stay at Dortmund] don't make him credible. This damages the whole of football.”
- Matthaus gets a tad melodramatic over Gotze's decision to leave Dortmund for rivals Bayern Munich.
“I can understand that people are not happy, but they should not use football to make their demands heard. Brazil asked to host the World Cup. We didn’t force it on them.”
- Blatter boosts Fifa's popularity in Brazil by giving this typically tactful response to the public protests that overshadowed this year's Confederations Cup.
"A Marseille player, whose name I don't remember, speaks badly of Neymar, Brazilian football, Beckham and Ibra ... It makes me want to win even more, to shut this Englishman up. What does he know about Brazilian football? I can't remember playing against him for the national team."
- Like everyone else in the entire footballing world, Thiago Silva grows weary of Joey Barton's constant pleas for attention on Twitter.
"I saw Abidal’s situation and I didn’t like it. They weren’t correct with him, they didn’t keep their word. In my case, it was just over sporting negotiations. But, in Abidal’s case - who’s a great person - they did nothing to help."
- In revealing why he didn’t move to Barcelona, Thiago Silva controversially slams the Catalans for failing to offer Eric Abidal sufficient support during his recovery from a liver transplant.
|TOUGH AT THE TOP
“Once at Juve I went to a party at Pippo Inzaghi’s house and there were lots of girls from TV shows there. We danced and drank beer, but everyone except me ended up having sex that night. The day after I saw them on television and told my wife: ‘Look, last night I was with all of them and didn’t do anything!’”
- Former Juventus midfielder Fabian O’Neil points out that while he wasn’t averse to fixing matches during his time in Serie A, he did at least have strong principles when it came to certain vices.
“After some games this season I haven’t needed to have a shower. Yes, I guess sometimes it is boring being in goal.”
- Manuel Neuer freely admits that being Bayern Munich’s No.1 is not always the most taxing job in the world.
"I never became champion when it was still so cold - neither as player nor as coach."
- Bayern boss Jupp Heynckes confesses that clinching the Bundesliga on the first weekend in April, with a staggering eight games to spare, left him feeling a little cold.
|THE CASE FOR THE DEFENCE
“I have issued an apology and have tried to contact Branislav Ivanovic to speak to him personally. I apologise also to my manager, playing colleagues and everyone at Liverpool Football Club for letting them down.”
- Reds striker Luis Suarez says sorry after showing a little too much hunger in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea by trying to eat Blues defender Branislav Ivanovic.
"He [Suarez] bit someone; it happens. I am sure he will make amends with this guy. I made amends with Evander [Holyfield] and we got on with our lives."
- Former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson reassures Suarez that it's possible to get your career and indeed your life right back on track after biting an opponent.
"This gesture was just a special dedication to my comedian friend Dieudonne."
- Nicolas Anelka kicks off the mother of race rows by celebrating a goal against West Ham at Upton Park with the controversial gesture, 'la quenelle'.
"I'm very happy at Monaco and I believe in the project. I feel good at the club. I believe in the Monaco project and I'm going to stay here."
- Radamel Falcao tries valiantly to convince everyone that he believes in the project at Monaco. Nobody believes him.
"If I have to go to war one day, I'll take Patrice Evra with me, at my side, in the frontline.”
- Nicolas Anelka voices his support for Patrice Evra, who caused controversy in France by accusing some television pundits/"parasites" of trying to ruin his image.
"We now have three ladies on the board. Say something, ladies! You are always speaking at home. Say something now!"
- Blatter urges Lydia Nsekera of Burundi, Australia’s Moya Dodd and Sonia Bien-Aime of the Turks & Caicos Islands to say a few words after being elected to the Fifa executive committee. If only he’d kept quiet.
"I think that for someone like Galliani there should be more respect. I can't really see women in football, I don't like to say it but that's how it is."
- Former AC Milan midfielder Gennaro Gattuso wades into the heated debate over Barbara Berlusconi's attempts to wrest power away from Adriano Galliani and manages to upset everybody in one swift process.
"Women who talk about football tactics, it's beautiful. I find that fantastic. And you know what a 4-3-3 is, right?"
– France Laurent Blanc takes the award for most outrageously condascending question of the year while in conversation with a female Swedish journalist.
"With all respect for what the ladies have done, and they've done it fantastically well, you can't compare men's and women's football. Give it up, it's not even funny."
- Certainly, nobody was laughing after Ibrahimovic airs his views on the fairer sex and football.
|INFAMY, INFAMY, THEY'VE ALL GOT IT IN FOR ME
"I've suffered grave damage to my person. This is not the way to deal with a generation change. It should be done with elegance.”
- Galliani announces his intention to step down as AC Milan CEO after 27 years with the club without even attempting to hide the fact that his power struggle with Barbara Berlusconi, daughter of club owner Silvio, is the reason behind his shock decision.
"Never have I ever had the slightest thought about possibly fixing a game. If something was proven I would be willing to go out into the street and, I know this is a strong thing to say, I would kill myself."
- Gattuso makes headlines again after being implicated in the umpteenth match-fixing scandal to hit Italy - this year.
"I cried, suffered, felt bad and had nights where I slept little, if at all.”
- Real Madrid captain Iker Casillas reveals the depth of his despair at not being regularly picked to play football during the final months of Jose Mourinho’s reign at the Santiago Bernabeu.
"Without any proof they gave me an eight-match ban but with [John] Terry, where they had proof, lip-readers, they gave him four. I'm South American and I think that's the root of all of this.”
- The still bitter Luis Suarez effectively accuses The Football Association of racism ... for finding him guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra last year.
"If I had to I would do it again and again. Not because of political beliefs, but because this man inspired me, a country, a continent and the world! Thanks again, Madiba.”
- Didier Drogba stands firm after being investigated by the Turkish Football Federation (TFF) in relation to a tee-shirt he wore paying tribute to former South African president Nelson Mandela, who passed away in December. The TFF wisely decided against charging the Ivorian.
"First of all, it's a thank you to Manchester United; not just the directors, not just the medical staff, the coaching staff, the players, the supporters, it's all of you. You have been the most fantastic experience of my life. Thank you.”
- Ferguson says goodbye to Manchester United after 27 incredible years at the club.
“I do not want to push myself in or impose my presence on the club’s new owners. It would be like selling your house and then continually visiting to sit in the lounge.”
- Massimo Moratti insists that he won’t hang around San Siro like ... eh ... Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford, after deciding to sell Inter to Erick Thohir.
|THE BEAUTIFUL GAME
"When I had to undergo surgery, Dani wanted to donate his liver.”
- Eric Abidal reveals that former Barcelona team-mate Daniel Alves was willing to put his career - and arguably his life - on the line for him when the full extent of his medical problems became clear.
"Without football, I would have been poor and probably unemployed.”
- Bayern Munich and Ballon d'Or contender Franck Ribery gives thanks to the game.
"If Pirlo were to leave, we might as well dismantle the stadium bit by bit and stop playing football altogether.”
- It's fair to say that Gianluigi Buffon would be in favour of Juventus offering playmaker Andrea Pirlo a new contract.
"Nobody likes to play against Barca, except masochists."
- Despite Bayern Munich’s compelling evidence to the contrary, Thomas Muller insists that playing the Blaugrana is always a painful experience.
"I discovered that he comes from the planet Krypton and that he will still play for another four or five years!"
- Former Inter president Massimo Moratti discloses the secret of Javier Zanetti’s remarkable longevity.
“I will not lie. Tonight’s game made our Super Bowl seem like the Little League World Series. The place was crazed throughout the game. My ears are still ringing, and the game is over for more than an hour. I never heard a crowd scream so loud in my life.”
- American director Spike Lee is left stunned by the atmosphere at the Maracana during the Copa do Brasil final between Flamengo and Atletico-PR.
|IT'S NOT EASY BEING THE BOSS
“There are many youngsters waiting to take my place, but not every medical student goes on to become a surgeon.”
- Massimiliano Allegri gives his views on reports that he could be replaced as AC Milan coach by Clarence Seedorf or Pippo Inzaghi.
“In Italy, the coach is a paratrooper who jumps out of the plane but doesn’t know if the parachute will open or not.”
- Claudio Ranieri perfectly conveys the perilous nature of working in Serie A.
"What would I have done differently? I would have changed 11 players."
- Chelsea boss Mourinho was less than impressed with the starting line-up he selected for November's 2-0 defeat at Newcastle.
“The difference from last year is we are on an upward spiral in terms of confidence and they are in a negative spiral in terms of results – and to be out of that negative spiral is extremely difficult.”
- Andre Villas-Boas makes arguably the worst appraisal of the year after Tottenham's win over Arsenal last season.