What do you think happened when trophies went missing? In football, when we say a trophy was ‘robbed’ or something similar, we often mean it went to someone whom many people think was undeserving. However, today, we want to explore moments when trophies were literally stolen.
When Trophies Went Missing
Some of these stories are amusing, while others are downright shocking. Here are 8 incidents when trophies went missing.
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1. World Cup
In 1966, England was gearing up to host the World Cup. Four months before the tournament, the Jules Rimet trophy, destined for exhibition, was already in the country and on display at Westminster Central Hall on Saturday, the 19th of March.
All seemed well until the following day around noon when the guards discovered that the trophy had vanished. The display case appeared to have been forcibly opened, and the prized trophy was nowhere to be found.
Subsequently, the Chairman of the FA received an anonymous call on Monday, indicating a delivery was to be made to Chelsea Football Club. Upon delivery, the parcel contained the top lining of the trophy along with a note demanding a £15,000 ransom. The thieves threatened to melt the trophy unless the FA refrained from involving the authorities or the media. Despite the threat, the FA engaged the police. Surprisingly, it wasn’t law enforcement that eventually recovered the trophy, but rather a dog named Pickles.
Approximately eight days after the heist, a man named David Corbett was out for a stroll with his dog, Pickles. The canine, inquisitive as ever, sniffed around and uncovered the trophy lying under a hedge at David’s residence. He promptly handed over the trophy to the authorities. Initially suspected of involvement in the theft, he was eventually released due to a solid alibi.
However, in an unexpected turn of events, the same trophy was stolen once again in 1983, this time in Brazil. The South American nation had possession of the trophy after winning the World Cup for the third time in 1970. Thirteen years later, it was stolen.
Though the culprits were apprehended, the trophy itself was never recovered. Instead, a replica was created and presented to Brazil’s football federation in 1984.
2. European Cup
The theft didn’t spare the most significant trophy in international football, nor did it leave untouched the grandest prize in club football—the Champions League trophy. This incident occurred in 1982 when the competition was still recognized as the European Cup. The setting for this theft? England, more precisely, Birmingham.
Aston Villa had recently been crowned champions of Europe, and as part of their celebrations, the team members took the trophy to various locations, allowing fans to touch, feel, and take pictures with it. However, on a particular day, while some players were enjoying drinks and playing darts with the trophy at a bar, the unimaginable happened—the trophy disappeared!
The players present described the moment as both scary and dreadful. Miraculously, the trophy reappeared at the Sheffield Police Station when a man named Mr. Skyes walked in and handed it over to the authorities.
Quite an unexpected turn of events, isn’t it?
3. FA Cup
In 1895, Aston Villa secured the FA Cup, but shortly thereafter, reports emerged that the trophy had been stolen from the football equipment shop where it was displayed. Unfortunately, the trophy was never recovered.
Could this explain why Aston Villa’s trophy wins came to a halt? Perhaps they encountered difficulties in maintaining possession of their prized awards.
Fast forward some sixty years later, a man named Harry Burge, previously known as a minor criminal in the Birmingham area during his youth, stepped forward and confessed to pilfering the trophy. He admitted to melting it down promptly to produce counterfeit coins. Astonishing!
4. Women’s FA Cup
Not only the men’s FA Cup but also the women’s FA Cup went missing once back in the 1970s. This time, however, Aston Villa wasn’t involved. It was Southampton who had recently claimed the trophy and unfortunately mishandled it. As a result, a new version of the trophy had to be created for upcoming tournaments. Regrettably, the original trophy remains unrecovered to this day.
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5. Viktoria – A German Bundesliga Trophy
But hey! Trophy disappearances are not exclusive to England. The Viktoria, the trophy that preceded the Meisterschale (the Bundesliga trophy), also went missing some years ago.
The Viktoria had been awarded to German champions since 1903. It’s quite an intriguing trophy, designed in the likeness of Victoria, the Roman goddess of victory. Now, let’s delve into the story. The Viktoria remained the official trophy of the German top flight until it vanished in 1945 during the final stages of World War II. The story goes that a fan managed to secure it and concealed it in his coal cellar as the Soviet army advanced towards Berlin.
The Viktoria lay hidden in East Berlin until the fall of the Berlin Wall. At that point, the fan returned the trophy. Some might argue that it wasn’t exactly stolen, but rather secured for safekeeping. Nevertheless, despite regaining possession of the trophy, the DFB (German Football Association) opted for a new trophy from 1949 onwards, giving birth to the Meisterschale, which continues to be awarded to this day.
6. Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy
There’s a particular trophy you might not be aware was stolen, and that’s likely because its very existence might have escaped your knowledge. Enter the Sir Thomas Lipton Trophy.
During the early 20th century, a philanthropist named Sir Thomas Lipton orchestrated a tournament aimed at determining the world’s finest team. The event engaged representatives from Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and England.
Conducted in 1909 and 1911, the competition saw West Auckland emerge victorious both times, claiming the esteemed trophy. It found a home at the West Auckland Working Men’s Club until its unfortunate theft in January 1994. Despite the original trophy remaining unrecovered, a replica was crafted and is presently safeguarded by West Auckland FC.
7. UEFA Cup
Here’s an intriguing yet peculiar incident. The 1978 UEFA Cup was filched from PSV’s trophy room in the year 2000. The peculiarity lies not in the theft itself, but in the fact that it was purloined by none other than a comedian and actor, Theo Maasen, during the filming of a series at the Phillips stadium.
For an extended duration, the trophy’s whereabouts remained a mystery. It wasn’t until Theo openly confessed on live television about the theft. Notably, he didn’t just admit to the act but brought the trophy with him to substantiate his claim.
The motive behind the theft remains uncertain; whether it was a jest or not. However, PSV certainly did not see the humor in the situation. Consequently, charges were pressed, and despite this, Theo received a relatively mild punishment, merely a few hours of community service.
8. The Super Ballon d’Or
The Super Ballon d’Or, a highly exclusive award, was only presented once, bestowed upon Alfredo Di Stefano in 1989. Di Stefano, renowned for his enduring tenure with Real Madrid and his deep affection for the club, opted to exhibit his award at the Real Madrid museum in the Santiago Bernabeu.
However, in 2021, seven years following Di Stefano’s passing, his children removed the trophy from the museum and put it up for auction. A mystery buyer acquired the rare trophy for a sum of 187,500 pounds.
As of now, the precise location of the trophy remains unknown. While not technically stolen, its current status is best described as missing, considering the uncertainty surrounding the whereabouts of this historically significant football trophy.” This revised text maintains the original information while refining the language for improved clarity and coherence
Do you have an anecdote about a local trophy disappearing or being stolen in your city or town? Share your story in the comments below!