A testimonial match or testimonial game, often referred to simply as a testimonial, is a practice in some sports, particularly in association football in the United Kingdom and South America, where a club has a match to honour a player for service to the club. These matches are always non-competitive.
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.
The practice started at a time when player compensation, even those at top professional clubs, was at a level that made it difficult to maintain it as a primary form of employment therefore retirement savings might not exist. These matches are generally well-attended and the gesture by the club can give the honoree income that enables a retirement income base or enable the honoree an opportunity to establish themselves in other employment when they finished playing. This is still the main objective of testimonials in Australia, Ireland and some other countries.
Clubs typically grant testimonials to players upon reaching ten years of service with a club, although in recent years they have been given to players for particular circumstances such as approaching retirement. Typically, the club invites (depending on the career of the honoree) current or retired teammates (typically the honoree's club and national team) to participate in the match or with the associated festivities. All proceeds from the match go to the player which depending on the applicable country laws may be tax-free. These matches have become less frequent as changes have occurred in football that make the original purpose less needed or appreciated. Wages have increased, players may not stay with a club as long as they had formerly and those top players that have the esteem of the public and in the past had financial need for such assistance make it less likely for the public support the purpose of these matches.However, testimonial matches for players who have given many years of service to the club (i.e. one-club men) and are popular with fans and have a higher turnout.
Testimonials in top-level football have continued to honour a player but have increasingly become charitable affairs, in which the player gives part or all of the proceeds to charitable activities. For example, longtime Sunderland and Republic of Ireland star Niall Quinn, in a "friendly" in 2002 at the Stadium of Light, donated all of the nearly-£1-million proceeds of the match to the charitable foundation he started that go to the support of children's hospitals in Tyne and Wear, Ireland, and India.Another high-profile charitable testimonial was that of England rugby player Martin Johnson, held at Twickenham on 4 June 2005. This event, which featured many rugby union stars, benefited children's and cancer charities. On 4 September 2010, a crowd of 35,682 attended Jamie Carragher's testimonial match at Anfield, after fifteen years of service to Liverpool, and helped to raise more than £1 million for the defender's "23 Foundation" charity.
Sunderland Association Football Club is an English professional football club based in the city of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear. Sunderland play in League One, the third tier of English football. Since its formation in 1879, the club has won six top-flight titles, a total only bettered by five other clubs, and has finished runners-up five times. The club has also won the FA Cup twice and been runners-up twice, as well as winning the FA Community Shield in 1936 and being finalists the following year. Sunderland have also been Football League Cup finalists in 1985 and 2014.
The Republic of Ireland national football team represents Ireland in association football. It is governed by the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) and stages its home fixtures at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Niall John Quinn, is an Irish former professional footballer and businessman, and the ex-chairman of Sunderland. Quinn continued as Sunderland's director responsible for international development until he stepped down in February 2012. He played club football for English Premier League teams Arsenal, Manchester City and Sunderland during the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. Quinn also received 92 caps for the Republic of Ireland national football team, scoring 21 times, which makes him Ireland's second highest goalscorer of all time. He also appeared with the Irish team at the UEFA European Football Championship of 1988 and two FIFA World Cups in 1990 and 2002.
In addition to many exhibition matches which have been organised to raise funds for good causes,often in the style of an all-star game (such as annual Soccer Aid and Match Against Poverty events), some similar matches have been arranged to honour a particular player at the end of their career, with the proceeds going to charity – examples being Gheorghe Hagi and Tomáš Rosický – but these are not testimonials as they are not organised by a club.
An all-star game is an exhibition game that purports to showcase the best players of a sports league. The exhibition is between two teams organized solely for the event, usually representing the league's teams based on region or division, but sometimes dividing the players by an attribute such as nationality. Selection of the players may be done by a vote of the coaches and/or news media; in professional leagues, fans may vote on some or all of the roster. An all-star game usually occurs at the midpoint of the regular season. An exception is American football's Pro Bowl, which occurs at the end of the season.
Soccer Aid is an annual British charity event that has raised over £20 million in aid of UNICEF UK, through ticket sales and donations from the public. This event was produced and distributed by a Dutch company that distribute the Dutch Eredivisie matches, Endemol Shine Sport. The event is a friendly-style football match between two teams, England and the Soccer Aid World Eleven (WXI), composed of celebrities and former professional players representing their countries. Soccer Aid was initiated by Robbie Williams and Jonathan Wilkes.
The Match Against Poverty is a friendly football match that has taken place every year since 2003 to raise funds to support specific development projects selected by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). The UNDP organized the game with the help of UNDP Goodwill Ambassadors Zinedine Zidane and Ronaldo, is supported by both FIFA and UEFA, and raises awareness and mobilizes public opinion for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that were created in 2000.
A benefit is a match or season of activities granted by a sporting body to a loyal sportsman to boost their income before retirement. Often this is in the form of a match for which all the ticket proceeds are given to the player in question. However hosting one of these matches is a risk for the player in question as he/she is responsible for paying any relevant receipts and collects any excess income from the match, therefore income from such matches is more often than not reliant on attendance.
A benefit season is a method of financially rewarding professional cricketers that is used by English county cricket teams to compensate long serving players.
Gheorghe "Gică" Hagi is a Romanian former professional footballer, considered one of the best attacking midfielders in Europe during the 1980s and '90s and the greatest Romanian footballer of all time. Galatasaray fans called him "Comandante" and Romanians call him "Regele". He is currently the owner and manager of Viitorul Constanța.
Sir Kenneth Mathieson Dalglish is a Scottish former football player and manager. He made over three hundred appearances for both Celtic and Liverpool and earned over one hundred caps for the Scotland national team. Dalglish won the Ballon d'Or Silver Award in 1983, the PFA Players' Player of the Year in 1983, and the FWA Footballer of the Year in 1979 and 1983. In 2009, FourFourTwo named Dalglish as the greatest striker in post-war British football, and in 2006, he topped a Liverpool fans' poll of "100 Players Who Shook the Kop". He has been inducted into both the Scottish and English Football Halls of Fame.
Liverpool Football Club is a professional football club in Liverpool, England, that competes in the Premier League, the top tier of English football. The club has won 5 European Cups, more than any other English club, 3 UEFA Cups, 3 UEFA Super Cups, 18 League titles, 7 FA Cups, a record 8 League Cups, and 15 FA Community Shields.
Alan Shearer, CBE, DL is an English retired footballer. He played as a striker in the top level of English league football for Southampton, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United and the England national team. He is Newcastle's and the Premier League's record goalscorer. He was named Football Writers' Association Player of the Year in 1994 and won the PFA Player of the Year award in 1995. In 1996, he was third in the FIFA World Player of the Year awards. In 2004 Shearer was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.
Tony Alexander Adams is an English football manager. As a player Adams played for Arsenal and England captaining both teams.
The Football Association Community Shield is English football's annual match contested between the champions of the previous Premier League season and the holders of the FA Cup at Wembley Stadium. If the Premier League champions also won the FA Cup then the league runners-up provide the opposition. The fixture is recognised as a competitive super cup by the Football Association.
Steven George Gerrard is an English professional football manager and former player who manages Scottish Premiership club Rangers. He spent the majority of his playing career as a central midfielder for Liverpool, with most of that time spent as club captain, as well as captaining the England national team. Regarded as one of the greatest midfielders of his generation, Gerrard was awarded the UEFA Club Footballer of the Year award in 2005, and the Ballon d'Or Bronze Award. In 2009, Zinedine Zidane and Pelé said that they considered Gerrard to be the best footballer in the world. A versatile and well-rounded player, highly regarded for his leadership, Gerrard is the only footballer to score in an FA Cup Final, a League Cup Final, a UEFA Cup Final and a UEFA Champions League Final, winning on each occasion.
James Lee Duncan Carragher is an English retired footballer who played as a defender for Premier League club Liverpool during a career which spanned 17 years.
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John Kennedy is a Scottish professional football player and coach. He played as a centre back for Celtic and Norwich City. Kennedy was also a Scotland international, but he suffered a serious knee injury on his international debut in March 2004. He retired on 13 November 2009 having failed to fully recover, and now works for Celtic as a first team coach.
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The Liverpool F.C.–Manchester United F.C. rivalry, also known as the North West Derby, is a high-profile inter-city rivalry between English professional association football clubs Liverpool and Manchester United. It is considered to be one of the biggest rivalries in the association football world along with the Old Firm derby in Scotland, Superclásico in Argentina, El Clásico in Spain, and Derby della Madonnina in Italy, and is considered the most famous fixture in English football. Players, fans and the media alike often consider games between the two clubs to be their biggest rivalry, above even their own local derby competitions with Everton and Manchester City, respectively.
Philippe Coutinho Correia is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays as an attacking midfielder or winger for Spanish club Barcelona and the Brazilian national team.
Jordan Brian Henderson is an English professional footballer who captains Premier League club Liverpool and plays for the English national team. He is usually deployed as a central midfielder for both club and country.
Roberto Firmino Barbosa de Oliveira is a Brazilian professional footballer who plays for Premier League club Liverpool and the Brazil national team as an attacking midfielder, forward or winger.
Mohamed Salah Hamed Mahrous Ghaly is an Egyptian professional footballer who plays as a forward for Premier League club Liverpool and the Egypt national team. He is considered Europe's top five leagues' fifth most expensive player from a transfer value perspective by the CIES.
Tomáš Rosický is a Czech former professional footballer who was the captain of the Czech Republic national team for a ten-year period. He played club football for Sparta Prague, Borussia Dortmund and Arsenal. He was nicknamed "the little Mozart" for his ability to "orchestrate" the midfield.