Has a footballer ever made a marriage proposal during a match?

<span>Josh Cavallo proposes to his partner at Adelaide United's Coopers Stadium.</span><span>Photograph: Courtney Pedlar/Reuters</span>
Josh Cavallo proposes to his partner at Adelaide United's Coopers Stadium.Photograph: Courtney Pedlar/Reuters

Josh Cavallo proposing to his now fiance in Adelaide United’s empty stadium got me thinking: has a player ever popped the question during a match? And did the proposee say yes?” wonders Jack Hayward.

Some superb answers were sent in on this one, so thanks to Joran and Corentine Hatfield for bringing the romance back into our lives. “Let’s first set the atmosphere,” begins Joran, self confessed fan of football and love. “Standard Liège’s magnificent stadium was full as an egg (as the saying goes in Belgium), on 24 October 2022. The “clasico” against Anderlecht is the most important fixture of the season for Liège fans. Standard were winning 3-1 but the game was stopped around the 60th minute, because of Anderlecht supporters throwing fire on the pitch.

“That’s when the Norwegian Aaron Dønnum decided it was his big day: he proposed to his girlfriend, in front of the red Kop, surrounded by his teammates. She said yes and all the fans shouted for them!

“So technically he did propose during the game, because at that point nobody knew if the game would have to be finished or not.”

This is where Corentine steps in: “There have been quite a few cases of footballers proposing on the pitch – the most notable recently being Belarusian defender Vladislav Shubovich, who in 2022 proposed to his girlfriend after scoring a goal for FC Smorgon, only for a steward to try to get her off the pitch, thinking she was a pitch invader. After a brief discussion, she said yes.”

“Also, in 2018, Venezuelan international Eduard Bello celebrated scoring for Antofagasta of the Chilean league by rushing to the sideline and proposing, again successfully – he’d go on to score another during the game, though Antofagasta lost 3-2.

“My personal favourite has to be Guamanian Ashton Surber, who scored a bicycle kick for Napa Rovers in 2017, celebrated by taking off his shirt, revealing the message “MARRY ME?” on it, then got booked right as he drops to one knee to finalise the proposal. She also said yes.”

Managers taking charge of every club they played for

“The reported pursuit of Xabi Alonso by Bayern Munich and Liverpool made me wonder: has anyone managed every club they played for? No one-club men or women, and bonus points if they also managed their national team,” mails Rakin Choudhury.

Step forward a visionary manager who was playing 4-6-0 before the world was ready for it. “Craig Levein fits the bill,” writes Adam Pinder. “He started his playing career with Cowdenbeath before making over 400 appearances for Hearts despite multiple serious injuries. His managerial career also started at Cowdenbeath before two spells in charge of Hearts. And as a bonus he also played for and managed Scotland.”

The other answers are reliant on stints as caretaker or interim manager; we’ll leave it up to you whether they count. “Kenny Dalglish is a possible answer,” writes Jack Hayward. “Scotland’s most capped player made 559 club league appearances for Liverpool and Celtic. He managed the former twice, winning Division One three times during his first spell, and was appointed to the latter on a temporary basis in 2000, replacing former Liverpool teammate John Barnes and winning the Scottish League Cup.”

Another former Celtic manager also fits the ball. “Tony Mowbray has (kind of) done it,” writes Phil Jolly. “His first managerial role was as caretaker manager of Ipswich and he has managed Middlesbrough and Celtic on a permanent basis – the three teams he played for.”

Injury-time ‘winners’ that turn out not to be?

Nope! When Liverpool visited Arsenal in March 2011, Jamie Carragher suffered a head injury and was taken off on a stretcher wearing an oxygen mask. There were eight minutes of added time as a result. “Eight! Bloody hell!” wrote Gregg Bakowski in our minute-by-minute report, which shows how unusual that was at the time.

Robin van Persie put Arsenal ahead with a 98th-minute penalty, but the two-minute delay before his kick meant even more time was added on. Emmanuel Eboué fouled Lucas Leiva and Dirk Kuyt equalised from the spot with the last kick of the match – in the 102nd minute. You can read the late Kevin McCarra’s match report here.

Unbeaten seasons in all competitions

“Has any club playing in a major European competition gone the entire season unbeaten in all competitions?” wonders John Whyte. “I know that Steaua Bucharest (1985-86) and Ajax (1994-95) came close. If not, has it happened in another continent?”

Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen side are still on course to achieve the feat this season, having lost none of their 39 games this season in the Bundesliga, Europa League and German Cup. No top-level European team has gone through an entire season unbeaten, but Ben Janeson informs us of Al-Ahly’s magnificent season of 2004-05, when the Egyptian side swept all before them. He took to X to give us the full details …

Knowledge archive

“Sam Szmodics is the top goalscorer in the Championship with 23,” notes Chris Bentley. “His club, Blackburn Rovers, are five points above the relegation zone with six games left. Has the top goalscorer ever been relegated in England? What’s the most goals a player has ever scored and still been relegated? Proper leagues only please.”

So, we had this question in 2021, when VVV-Venlo were relegated from the Eredivisie despite Giorgos Giakoumakis winning the golden boot at a canter with 26 goals. Here’s what we said.

Let’s start down on the south coast of England. “Southampton’s Mick Channon managed that feat,” wrote Andy Grace. “The famous windmill celebration was seen 21 times in 1973-74 and he topped the Division One scoring charts, despite the club getting relegated that same season.”

Dirk Maas pointed out that just a couple of years later, in the 1975-76 La Liga season, Enrique Castro González (better known as ‘Quini’) suffered the same fate at Sporting Gijón. He stuck around to fire them straight back up to La Liga the next season, though, when they even qualified for the Uefa Cup. Dirk also found that Thomas Dalgaard went down with Viborg FF in the 2013-14 Danish Super Liga while scoring 18 goals in 33 games.

It’s happened in Italy, too. “Igor Protti was the only Serie A player to have suffered this fate,” offered Jörg Michner. “In 1995-96 he scored 24 goals and became capocannoniere alongside Lazio legend Giuseppe Signori, but his Bari side got relegated anyway. Funnily enough, Protti’s goalscoring prowess earned him a move to Lazio at the end of the season. He flopped there badly, however, and was released from his contract two years later. Incidentally, along with Dario Hübner, Protti is also the only player who was top scorer in Serie A, Serie B and Serie C.”


Can you help?

“My team, Dagenham and Redbridge, have 53 points but are still not mathematically safe from relegation. What is the highest points achieved across all major leagues that still resulted in relegation?” wonders John Benstead.

During the international break, St Kitts and Nevis played a pair of friendlies against San Marino, who went in at 210th in the Fifa world rankings. Their next international will be a World Cup qualifier against Costa Rica, who are currently ranked 147 places higher than San Marino. I’d bet the farm on this not being the biggest gap in the rankings between consecutive international opponents: so what is?” asks Jack Hayward

“Has a team ever won every away game in season?” wonders Joe McDonagh. “Currently, Cray Valley PM in the Isthmian South Eastern league have won all 16 games. They may not yet win the league as their home form is 8-7-1.”