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7 of the Best Ever Football Games Released on PlayStation 2

90min Staff
Mar 4, 2020, 5:20 PM GMT
Sven Goran Eriksson X
Sven Goran Eriksson X | Jamie McDonald/GettyImages

It's Christmas Day sometime in the early noughties. You wake up before even the cockerel has sounded and race downstairs. Dad - already midway through his bizarre, 12-hour cooking ritual with the turkey - says it's too early for presents but you do not care.

With no thought for the repercussions, you tear through the wrapping paper on your present to reveal.. the blacky, boxy shape somewhere between spaceship and brutalist Soviet apartment block. Yes, the PlayStation 2. 

You run upstairs to post a photo on Instagram, before remembering that it's 2002 and it hasn't been invented yet. Even that can't bring you down though, you finally have a PS2.

For a certain generation of now 20-to-30-somethings, the console evokes strong memories of rushing home from school to load up their favourite football game, weekends lost and friendships made and ruined. 

But what exactly were people slipping into their disk drives two decades ago?

Wonder no more people, as below 90min has compiled a list of seven of the best football simulations to be brought out on PS2 on (let's face it) the best ever console's 20th birthday. 

FIFA 2005

Righto, let's get the granddaddy of them all out of the way shall we. FIFA enjoyed no less than 14 releases on the PS2 but the pick of the bunch was FIFA 2005. It just was.

First, let's talk about that cover. Patrick Vieira. Oh yeah, makes sense. Andriy Shevchenko. Awesome, what a player he was. Fernando Morientes. Wait, what? 

Then there were the free kicks. FIFA 2005 allowed you to score knuckle-balls from the halfway line before Cristiano Ronaldo made it popular. Add to this the game's introduction of a 15-year career mode and skill stick for the first time, and it's not hard to recognise why it's headlining this particular list.

Pro Evolution 6

Up next is FIFA's arch-nemesis, Pro Evolution Soccer. EA Sports' offering may have had all the licenses but its rival had a rustic, arcade-y charm that made it loved by millions.

In 2006, Konami released PES 6 - one of the greatest football games ever made. Adriano and John Terry shared top billing on the cover, though it would be the Brazilian who would earn legendary status for his ludicrous attributes. 99 shot power stands out, but that combined with 90 acceleration and 98 balance made him nigh-on unplayable. 

And then there was Master League. That road to glory style career mode where you started at the bottom with fake players such as Castolo, Dodo and the surprisingly talented Minanda (the streets will never forget), and tried to take them all the way to the top. 

Each Master League default avatar was a blank canvas for you to endow with a dramatic backstory and personality of their own.

The gameplay was second to none as well. Right, where's my old copy. I'll be back in an hour...

LMA Manager 2007

The last ever incarnation of the brilliant series, LMA Manager 2007 represented a more light hearted simulation compared with the ultra realistic Football Manager games. 

After assembling your squad, you could watch them compete in the surprisingly impressive 3D match engine. 

The elite game mode in LMA was Create a Club. After choosing a location for your club, you designed the crest, badge and stadium before moving on to model a manager in your image. 

Then came the fantasy draft. Given a fixed budget to play with you could sign absolutely anyone you wanted - all bets were off. Hence why David Beckham will be 90min Athletic's first recruit whenever I get this darn PS2 to get past the loading screen... 

FIFA Street

Imagine a game where you can rainbow flick the ball over an avatar of Kevin Kilbane, before firing a volley that bursts through the net on the streets of Rio de Janeiro - all of this soundtracked by football related bars from Dizzee Rascal. 

Well my friends, that game exists and it goes by the name FIFA Street. 

In this crazy world matches are decided by skill points not goals, and the more audacious the finish the better. 

Released in 2005, FIFA Street may have even single handedly ushered in the streetwear revival - albeit after a delay of 15 years. One of the game modes had you design a kit for you skill team, providing space for aspiring fashion designers to express themselves, all while bicycling kicking a few balls into the top corner in the process.

UEFA Euro 2004

England might have had their hearts broken at Euro 2004 but luckily the tournament's video game spin-off allowed fans to right the wrongs of that quarter final against Portugal. 

For me, this involved two-footing Cristiano Ronaldo from behind everytime the winking bastard touched the ball, until too many sending offs led to me forfeiting the game. This method was repeated until me and my friends were no longer angry. It took quite a while...

Enough about that though, let's talk about the game more widely. It was basically a re-texturing of the FIFA 2004 engine but the edition of new squads, nation specific crowd chants and some graphical easter eggs just about made it passable as a stand alone game. 

Now, back to hacking Ronaldo... 

Let's Make a Soccer Team

Right, if anyone remembers this game, hit me up on Twitter. Seriously. I need people to reminisce with as it seems literally no one has even heard of Let's Make a Soccer Team.

Look, I know it sounds rubbish but I promise you it's good fun. Essentially half RPG, half football management simulation, the premise is that you are the owner of a club that has risen up the ranks in your chosen country. 

Before the game starts you choose a team name, kit and club secretary - not manager because...well, I don't really know to be quite honest with you. 

Alongside all the boring football stuff there are a number of soap opera style storylines running throughout the game. It's also really hard. You can even get a 'GAME OVER!' before you start if your team fails to win the playoff final. Woah, Derby and Sunderland would be in trouble then. 

Sven Goran Eriksson World Challenge

Sven Goran Eriksson X
Sven Goran Eriksson X | Jamie McDonald/GettyImages

Sven Goran Eriksson's World Challenge. How was this allowed to happen? Thank goodness it did though, what a concept. 

Don't let the name fool you, this is not a simulation of the Swede's life where you have to avoid the paparazzi, as you dash across town from lover to lover. No, no, no, this is a straight up football game. 

Choose from a number of completely unlicensed national teams - they must have spent their budget on Eriksson - and try not to throw your controller at the wall as you become increasingly irate at the unresponsive gameplay. 

Still, it's Sven, the old shagger, on the cover, so it gets a 10/10.

For more from Matt O'Connor-Simpson, follow him on Twitter!