They Played Who?!? 13 of the Weirdest Pre-Season Friendlies in the History of Football

As pre-season dwindles down to a close, many of you may have questioned the decision behind your club's various friendly fixtures ahead of the upcoming season.


Yet, they pale in comparison to the following pre-season matches, a compilation of the 13 strangest games ever to have been played during the summer.


You might find a few too hard to believe, but they all actually happened...

13. Histon FC 1-8 Real Sociedad, 2013

Real Sociedad, preparing for a challenging season in both La Liga and the Champions League, found themselves in England without anyone to play, giving Histon FC, who had just been relegated from Conference North, a dream fixture.


The friendly was played on such short notice that it was behind close doors though and Mexican striker Carlos Vela was publicly critical of the noncompetitive nature of the 8-1 victory. Not very nice Carlos.  

12. Leeds United 16-0 FC Gherdeina, 2014

​Probably in honour of Massimo Cellino, who had just acquired the Yorkshire club, Leeds  United went on a pre-season tour of Italy, but instead of facing the likes of Juventus and AC Milan, the Whites arrived in Santa Cristina to play minnows FC Gherdeina.


Matt Smith scored six after coming off the bench at half time, with Leeds coming away with a record breaking 16-0 win in what was the first game in charge for former manager David Hockaday. 

11. Hibernian 0-6 Barcelona, 2008

After local rivals Hearts played FC Barcelona at Scotland's home of rugby, Murrayfield Stadium, a year prior, Hibernian opted to repeat the feat, yet they were embarrassed in front of a record crowd.


In what was Pep Guardiola's first game as manager, the Catalans paraded all their big guns, Lionel Messi, Thierry Henry, Samuel Eto'o, Yaya Toure and Dani Alves to name but a few, and demolished Hibs 6-0.  

10. Juventus 1-1 Notts County, 2011

Why would Juventus choose to inaugurate their brand new stadium with a friendly against Notts County? For those not in the know, the successful Italian side adopted the Magpies' black and white stripes back in 1903 to start an honorary link between the two clubs.


The Bianconeri unveiled the 41,000 capacity Juventus Stadium, which replaced the iconic Stadio delle Alpi, in front of a celebrity studded crowd, only for Notts County to spoil the party with a late equaliser, courtesy of Lee Hughes

9. Shamrock Rovers 0-1 Real Madrid, 2009

As you will see in this list, ​Real Madrid have a history of facing some obscure sides in pre-season and their narrow 1-0 win over Shamrock Rovers is up there in terms of strange decisions from the club's management.


To commemorate the brand new Tallaght Stadium, the Irish side invited the 12-time European champions and they certainly did not hold back giving a debut to Cristiano Ronaldo, whilst also selecting Raul, Michel Salgado, Pepe, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart and goalscorer Karim Benzema.  

8. Dundee 2-0 Manchester City, 2014

Scottish side Dundee hosted Manchester City, nothing too strange about that one would think. However, the game took place on the day of the 2014 World Cup final, which you'd think should be a universal football holiday.


Yet, the likes of Fernando, Aleksandr Kolarov, Samir Nasri and Alvaro Negredo were robbed of watching Argentina being defeated by Germany in extra time only to lose themselves 2-0 to their Scottish opponents.  

7. Fluminense U23s 0-0 Exeter City, 2014

In 1914, the Brazilian national side played their first ever competitive game and it was against none other than Exeter City, who had been chosen by the FA to represent England overseas in South America.


So, to honour the 100 year anniversary of the match, the Fluminense under 23 side financed the League Two side to travel back to Brazil and recreate the match. It all just makes perfect sense, right?

6. Valencia Mestalla 3-0 Pontypridd Town, 2014

Pontypridd Town, a third division Welsh side, somehow managed to secure a friendly with the B side of Spanish giants Valencia in the summer of 2014, gaining a lot of media attention along the way.


talkSPORT radio host Colin Murray was one of those who travelled to Spain to see the minnows lose 3-0, but that was not the end of story. The Dragons repeated the trick in 2015 against Deportivo La Coruna and now compete in the annual talkSPORT trophy.  

5. Leeds United vs Leeds United, 2014

In that same pre-season tour after Cellino took control, the Whites' next opposition after defeating FC Gherdeina 16-0 was Romanian side FC Viitorul Constanta, who failed to turn up to take on David Hockaday's side


To appease the travelling fans, the Leeds squad split in two and faced off against each other in three 20-minute games. The opposition improved marginally upon their return to England as they ended their pre-season preparations with games against Guiseley, Mansfield, Chesterfield and Swindon Town.  

4. Bamber Bridge 1-9 Czech Republic, 1996

Bamber Bridge, a Preston-based football club that have never played higher than the sixth tier of English football, were contacted by the Czech Republic national team to play a friendly just days before the opening of Euro '96.


The eventual runners-up won comfortably, 9-1 to be exact, but the game represented a harmonious affair where a local brewery even built a temporary stand so they could sell beer during the match.  

3. Sheffield FC 2-5 Inter Milan, 2007

Sheffield FC, officially the oldest club in the world, celebrated its 150th year anniversary by playing against Inter Milan at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane, with Pele and Sepp Blatter as guests.


Marco Materazzi and Mario Balotelli played as the Nerazzurri won 5-2 against the Northern Premier League Division One South side. They would also play Dutch side Ajax to celebrate the momentous occasion.  

2. Real Madrid 1-0 Plymouth Argyle, 2006

New Real Madrid boss Fabio Capello insisted on a pre-season training camp in Austria, but was bemused to find that Ian Holloway's Plymouth Argyle were staying in the hotel there. Los Blancos negotiated to play the Devon-based side in a friendly in order to replace them at the camp.


The likes of Guti, Ivan Helguera and Antonio Cassano all featured, but it was Julio Baptista who broke the deadlock to give the European heavyweights a 1-0 win against the brave and well supported Pilgrims.  

1. The Entire Dallas Tornado Pre-Season Tour, 1967

Dallas Tornado, the predecessor to the MLS' FC Dallas (pictured), were funded by a local oil tycoon to go on a pre-season tour so crazy that the players themselves should have been scanned for psychological problems for agreeing to do it.


In the summer of 1967, the team went on a tour of Asia where they played the likes of a Pakistan XI, an Indian XI and the Chinese All Stars. If that is not strange enough, they were stoned on the pitch whilst playing Singapore FC, lost 2-1 to the Iranian Air Force and played two games in Saigon, as the Vietnam War raged on.  

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