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In Pictures: Some Of The Biggest Football Stories Of 2017

2017 saw another packed year in the football calendar, with any number of records broken and Ireland’s World Cup hopes torn apart at the Aviva.

The Champions League was retained for the first time in its current format, the transfer record was shattered and Lionel Messi’s ongoing battle with Cristiano Ronaldo to be crowned the best player ever continued.

At home, meanwhile, Cork City won 21 of their first 22 games on their way to being crowned League of Ireland Premier Division champions for the first time since 2005, before going on to complete the league and cup double in November.

Below are some images from some of the most significant football stories as we close out 2017.

 

The Ecstasy and the Agony of Ireland’s World Cup Campaign:

CARDIFF, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 09: James McClean of the Republic of Ireland celebrates as he scores their first goal during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Group D Qualifier between Wales and Republic of Ireland at the Cardiff City Stadium on October 9, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

James McClean was the hero in Cardiff as Ireland defied the odds to defeat Wales 1-0 in October, sealing a place in the playoffs for the Boys in Green.

DUBLIN, IRELAND - NOVEMBER 14: The Denmark team celebrate victory after the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier Play-Off: Second Leg between Republic of Ireland and Denmark at Aviva Stadium on November 14, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

However, after a 0-0 draw against Denmark in Copenhagen in November, a 5-1 hammering in Dublin meant that Ireland’s hopes of ending their 16-year World Cup exile went up in smoke.

 

Cork City Dominate the League of Ireland

Cork , Ireland - 27 October 2017; Cork City captain Alan Bennett and team-mates celebrate with the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division trophy after the SSE Airtricity League Premier Division match between Cork City and Bray Wanderers at Turners Cross, in Cork. (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Cork City team celebrate victoty with a trophy during the Irish Daily Mail FAI Senior Cup Final between Dundalk FC and Cork City at Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland on November 5, 2017 (Photo by Andrew Surma/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Cork City finally emerged from Dundalk’s shadow to claim the Premier Division title in 2017, going on a deeply impressive unbeaten run to effectively have the league wrapped up in the summer. To put the icing on the cake, they saw off the challenge of Dundalk in an FAI Cup final penalty shootout to complete the double.

 

Derry City Lose a Legend

SSE Airtricity League Premier Division, Tallaght Stadium, Dublin 10/3/2017 Shamrock Rovers vs Derry City Derry's Ryan McBride celebrates scoring a a goal INPHO/Tom Beary

Tragedy struck Derry City this year when club captain Ryan McBride sadly passed away in March. The 27-year-old, a Derry man through and through, died less than 24 hours after putting in a typically fine performance against Drogheda United in the Premier Division. His absence is, and always will be, felt around Derry City and the first game back at the Brandywell in 2018 will be a poignant affair.

 

Conte’s Chelsea Return to the Summit of the Premier League

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 21: Antonio Conte, Manager of Chelsea poses with the Premier League Trophy after the Premier League match between Chelsea and Sunderland at Stamford Bridge on May 21, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

Antonio Conte marked his first season in English football by bringing the Premier League title back to Stamford Bridge. In a season that was expected to be dominated by new Manchester rivals Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, Chelsea stole a march on the chasing pack and the trophy rarely looked like it was heading anywhere else. That being said, as of now they look highly unlikely to retain their title next May.

 

Arsenal Win The FA Cup to Deny Chelsea a League and Cup Double

TOPSHOT - Arsenal's players celebrate after their win over Chelsea on the pitch after the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley stadium in London on May 27, 2017.

Arsenal have made something of a habit of winning the FA Cup in recent years – but after missing out on a place in the top four last season, their 2017 victory is their most significant in years. Chelsea were strong favourites to complete the double, but the Gunners pulled a big performance out of the bag to end the campaign on a high.

 

Jose Mourinho Wins Two Trophies in his First Season at Manchester United

TOPSHOT - Manchester United's Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho holds up the trophy as Manchester United players celebrate their victory after the English League Cup final football match between Manchester United and Southampton at Wembley stadium in north London on February 26, 2017.

Jose Mourinho won his first trophy as Manchester United manager in February, and it’s a cup he knows well. A late Zlatan Ibrahimovic winner broke Southampton hearts at Wembley, a frantic 3-2 victory enough to mean that Mourinho claimed the League Cup for the fourth time.

STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN - MAY 24:  Jose Mourinho, Manager of Manchester United holds the trophy following victory in the UEFA Europa League Final between Ajax and Manchester United at Friends Arena on May 24, 2017 in Stockholm, Sweden.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Man United’s season would get even better in May, when goals from Paul Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were enough to win the Europa League in a 2-0 victory against Ajax at the Friends Arena in Solna.

 

Zidane Creates History with Real Madrid

CARDIFF, WALES - JUNE 03:  Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid lifts The Champions League trophy after the UEFA Champions League Final between Juventus and Real Madrid at National Stadium of Wales on June 3, 2017 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid ruled the roost in Europe once again in May, becoming the first team to retain the Champions League title in its current format (and the first double European champions since AC Milan in 1990). A second-half rout in Cardiff gave Zidane’s side a 4-1 victory over Juventus, and their 12th European Cup trophy.

 

Paris Saint-German Shatter the World Transfer Record

PSG Sign Neymar

As they had long threatened to do, Paris Saint-Germain finally laid down a serious statement of intent by poaching one of the ‘superclubs” star players. In August, PSG, obliterated Paul Pogba’s €105m transfer record by activating Neymar’s €222m release clause to prise him away from Barcelona. He has since struck up a potent partnership with Edinson Cavani and fellow signing Kylian Mbappe as the French side look to claim that elusive Champions League title.

 

Some of the Game’s Greats Said Called Time on Their Careers

ROME, ITALY - MAY 28:  Francesco Totti greets the fans after his last match during the Serie A match between AS Roma and Genoa CFC at Stadio Olimpico on May 28, 2017 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

TOPSHOT - Bayern Munich's defender Philipp Lahm (R) and Bayern Munich's Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso (L) celebrate with beer after  the German First division Bundesliga football match Bayern Munich vs SC Freiburg in Munich, southern Germany, on May 20, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Christof STACHE / RESTRICTIONS: DURING MATCH TIME: DFL RULES TO LIMIT THE ONLINE USAGE TO 15 PICTURES PER MATCH AND FORBID IMAGE SEQUENCES TO SIMULATE VIDEO. == RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE == FOR FURTHER QUERIES PLEASE CONTACT DFL DIRECTLY AT + 49 69 650050

BRONX, NY - NOVEMBER 05: Andrea Pirlo #21 of New York City FC during the Audi MLS Eastern Conference Semifinal Leg 2 match between New York City FC vs Columbus Crew at Yankee Stadium on November 05, 2017 in the Bronx borough of New York. New York City FC won the match with a score of 2 to 0.  Columbus Crew advances to the Eastern Conference Championships. (Photo by Ira L. Black/Corbis via Getty Images)

ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 15: Orlando City SC midfielder Kaka (10) greets fans while coming out of the tunnel during the soccer match between Orlando City SC and The Columbus Crew on October 15, 2017 at Orlando City Stadium in Orlando FL. (Photo by Joe Petro/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

2017 saw a number of the games brightest stars take to the pitch competitively for the final time. Francesco Totti, Andrea Pirlo, Philipp Lahm, Xabi Alonso and Kaka, with a bucketload of honours, medals and international caps between them, all said goodbye this year to the acclaim that they deserved.

 

Ronaldo Equals Messi’s Ballon d’Or Record

MADRID, SPAIN - DECEMBER 09: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid poses for photos with his FIFA Ballon Dor Trophies prior to the La Liga 2017-18 match between Real Madrid and Sevilla FC at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on 09 December 2017 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Power Sport Images/Getty Images)

December saw Cristiano Ronaldo claim his fifth Ballon d’Or, taking him level with Lionel Messi’s record. The Real Madrid forward played a key role in his side retaining the Champions League title this year, as well as winning La Liga for the first time since 2012.

 

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