Records are there to be broken, or so the saying goes, but for some this is not quite the case. In basketball, no-one will ever surpass Wilt Chamberlain's 100-point game. In cricket, Sir Don Bradman's batting average of 99.4 will never be beaten. In baseball, Joe DiMaggio's 56-game hit streak will stand forever as the longest in history.
Sport is often adored for its unpredictability, and football is no different, so some might take issue with claiming any feat, record or achievement will 'never be beaten'. Yet some accomplishments and feats are simply too remarkable, too incredible and too improbable that one can say with some confidence that they are unlikely to ever be beaten.
This list includes some well-known achievements within the world of football and some slightly less-known feats which are equally as astounding. It features both individual and team feats, as well as one set by neither a team nor an individual. If any of these feats are repeated or exceeded it will take an awe-inspiring effort by someone or team to have done so, and they are welcome to call me a fool for dismissing the potential of such an eventuality occurring. Here are the top 15 soccer feats which will never be repeated:
15 James Hayter - 140 Second Hat-Trick
James Hayter's career could have passed without much notice from the footballing world outside of England, were it not for his extraordinary hat-trick in 2004. While playing in a Second Division game for Bournemouth against Wrexham, Hayter came on as an 84th-minute, but put the Wrexham defence to the sword, scoring an incredible hat-trick in less than 140 seconds. Given that the previous record of just shy of 3 minutes stood for over 50 years, it is unlikely Hayter's record breaking hat-trick will be beaten anytime soon.
14 Sait Altınordu - 27 Years At One Club
Sait Altınordu was 14 when he made his debut for Altınordu SK, and 41 when he finally hung up his boots. That gives him a total of 27 years spent at one club. His closest competitors in the history of the game are 7 players all tied on 24 years, including the likes of Ryan Giggs and Paolo Maldini, all considerably behind the Turkish defender. In that time, Altınordu played 847 games for the club. Born simply 'Sait', when President Ataturk brought in a ruling that all citizens must have a surname, Altınordu took his team's name (Altınordu SK), and hence became Sait Altınordu.
13 Rogerio Ceni - 131 Goals For a Goalkeeper
With 131 goals, Rogerio Ceni is by far the highest scoring goalkeeper of all time. He scored 69 goals from the penalty spot, 61 from free-kicks and 1 from open play, the former two are both also world records for a goalkeeper. Having played 1,257 games for Sao Paolo, Ceni also holds the record for the most appearances for a single club in world football, in a career which spanned an incredible 25 years, 24 of which were spent at Sao Paolo. The goal-scoring goalkeeper also won 16 caps for Brazil, going to two World Cups.
12 Ian Ashbee - Captaining a Team Through All Four English Divisions
Hull City legend Ian Ashbee holds the remarkable distinction of being the only man to captain a club through all four English Football League divisions. The Derby County trainee joined the Tigers whilst they were still playing at Boothferry Park in 2002. Sent off on his debut, Ashbee quickly recovered his reputation, becoming a firm fans favourite, and scored the goal which saw Hull promoted to League One. Four years later the Hull City skipper was donning black and amber in the Premier League, an achievement made all the more remarkable by the fact Ashbee had to recover from a degenerative bone condition whilst at the club which threatened not only his playing career, but his ability to walk.
11 Lionel Messi - 73 Goals in a Season and 91 in a Calendar Year
Still only 28 years of age, the records have tumbled one after another in the extraordinary career of Lionel Messi. Quite possibly the finest player to ever play the game, Messi has scored 526 goals in his career to date, and 73 of them came in a single season, whilst 91 came in a calendar year. Both are world records for the sport, and both were previously held by German forward Gerd Muller over 40 years earlier, who scored 67 goals in a single season and 85 in a calendar year. Beating by tallies which had stood for almost half a century by 6 goals, it will take some time and may never happen that Messi's totals be beaten.
10 1950 World Cup Final - Attendance
Given that the popularity of football continues to rise and that new stadiums are always being built, it may seem natural that attendances continue to rise. However, the truth is, with modern safety laws, it is highly unlikely an attendance close to the one at the Maracana for the 1950 World Cup final will ever be seen again. The only way to do so while still complying with modern safety laws would be to build a stadium so large many spectators would barely be able to see what was happening on the pitch, something that is unlikely to ever happen. The attendance for Brazil vs Uruguay that day included 173,830 paying fans and an estimated 30,000 non-paying spectators.
9 Robert Lewandowski - 5 Goals in 9 Minutes
World class Polish forward Robert Lewandowski has scored 36 goals in 41 games this season, and is unfortunate to be playing in the Messi-Ronaldo era in which all players seem to be battling only for the title of 'next best'. The Bayern Munich man set an incredible record earlier this season when he scored 5 goals in 9 minutes against Wolfsburg. The fastest of any player to do so in the top flight since records began, and made all the more remarkable given that it game against a top-half Bundesliga side.
8 Diego Maradona - One-Man World Champions
A controversial entry no doubt, as some will argue that Diego Maradona did not win the World Cup for Argentina single-handedly in 1986. The Argentina squad of 23 featured only 7 players who played outside of Argentina, and their only other genuinely world class player Daniel Passarella was ruled out of the tournament. Maradona was a force of nature in Mexico in 1986, and it is not unreasonable to say he decided that World Cup. Never again will a single player have such a profound and decisive impact upon football's greatest competition.
7 Derby County - Worst Ever Premier League Season
Arguably not a 'feat' as such, given that it is the only 'negative' entry on this list, the Derby County team which took part in the 2007/08 Premier League season was eye-wateringly dreadful. The Rams won just one game all season (also a Premier League record), drawing 8 games and losing 29. They scored 20 goals and conceded 89, giving them a final points tally of 11. Given the incredible resources available to even the bottom Premier League clubs now and the increased competition of the league, it is unlikely a team will ever have a campaign as dreadful as Derby's in 2007/08.
6 Lionel Messi - Scoring in 21 Consecutive League Games
It's that man again, as alluded to earlier, Lionel Messi has set an astonishing number of records within the game, and this is the second and final one we consider to be potentially unbeatable. The Argentine magician scored in 21 consecutive La Liga games. The record meant that Messi scored against every single one of the other 19 La Liga teams in consecutive games, and he scored a tremendous 34 goals during his 21 games winning streak, which was only actually ended by injury. To put it in perspective, the second highest is Gerd Muller who scored in 16 consecutive league games, whilst Jamie Vardy holds the Premier League record which he set this season, scoring in 11 consecutive outings.
5 Just Fontaine - 13 Goals at a World Cup
To gauge whether a record is likely to be beaten, one ought to look at the record-setters nearest competitors. Just Fontaine's record of 13 goals at a single World Cup is one which is incredibly unlikely to ever be beaten. In the last 11 World Cups, taking us back to 1974, the nearest anyone has come to that is Ronaldo in 2002 with 8 goals. In the entire history of the tournament only two other players have hit double figures; Sandor Kocsis and Gerd Muller, in 1954 and 1970 respectively. Fontaine's 13 goals game in 6 games, scoring 3 against Paraguay, 2 against Yugoslavia, 1 against Scotland, 2 against Northern Ireland, 1 against Brazil and 4 against West Germany.
4 Mario de Castro - Career Average 1.95 Goals per Game
The goal scoring records of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are - quite rightly - lauded as incredible, however, no-one in the history of the game compares to that of Mario de Castro. Messi has a record of 0.83 goals per game, whilst Ronaldo's currently stands at 0.72. The closest 'modern' record to de Castro is Romario, with 0.93. All are absolutely dwarfed by the Brazilian who averaged 1.95 goals per game. He spent his entire career with Atletico Mineiro, scoring 195 goals in 100 games before retiring aged 26. The closest all-time records to de Castro are Fernando Peyroteo with 1.77 goals per game, Josef Bican with 1.52 goals per game and Imre Schlosser with 1.3 goals per game.
3 Sir Stanley Matthews - Top Flight at 50
The only English footballer to have been knighted whilst an active player, Sir Stanley Matthews is one of the greatest footballers of all time. Way ahead of his time, Matthews adhered to an incredibly strict diet and training program, and was even mocked for being a teetotal vegetarian. There was a method to his madness however, as the Stoke City and Blackpool ace played top flight football until the age of 50, the oldest player to do so, and he is also the oldest ever England international, playing his last game for his country at the age of 42. Given the pace of the modern game, it is unlikely a 50-year-old (particularly outfield) will play top flight football again.
2 Steaua București - 104 League Games Unbeaten
Romanian giants Steaua București hold the record for the most games unbeaten in European or world football, and no other record even comes close. The club went unbeaten in the league from June 1986 to September 1989, totaling an incredible 104 games. In that time, the club won 4 league titles, 3 domestic cups, one European Cup, one UEFA Super Cup and reached another European Cup final, losing only to the great AC Milan side under Arrigo Sacchi. The great București team of that era were led by their talisman and the greatest Romanian footballer of all time, Gheorghe Hagi.
1 Real Madrid - 5 Straight European Cup Wins
When the European Cup first began in the 1950s, one team was entirely dominant, and that team was Real Madrid. In the Champions League era, no team has managed back-to-back competition wins. You have to go back to AC Milan more than a quarter of a century ago for the last team to win consecutive European Cups. Barcelona have a chance to achieve that feat this season, and a creditable one it will be too. However, between 1955 and 1960, Real Madrid won an incredible 5 straight European Cups. Given the fierce competition in the tournament today, it would be virtually impossible for a team to repeat that feat.