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The football social media winners and losers of 2020

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Left to right: Alphonso Davies, Jordyn Huitema, Jose Mourinho
Some of the year’s biggest hitters

With actual human interaction limited this year, many of us have lived our lives more vicariously than ever through social media.

But in the year TikTok went from young pretender to content king, which footballers seamlessly migrated their followings onto the platform, and which were caught doing some heinous dad-dancing?

Winners

Alphonso Davies

What a year for this young man.

A treble in his first full season with Bayern Munich, a Golden Boy nomination and, perhaps most impressively (OK, it depends on your priorities…), the undisputed king of football TikTok…

Jordyn Huitema

Huitema, who plays for Paris-St Germain, completes a social media power couple…

And, like Davies, the 19-year-old is a TikTok star…

Mario Gotze

Germany international Gotze – with the help of wife Ann-Kathrin – is another Bundesliga footballer who has managed to engage with TikTok meme culture without looking totally out of place…

Wayne Bridge

Power couples have clearly been a thing on TikTok this year.

Wayne and Frankie Bridge – ex-England defender and The Saturdays star respectively – have been a deadlier duo than Tottenham’s Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min…

Marcus Rashford

Manchester United striker Rashford simply has to be in this list for the way he has used his platform to tirelessly lobby for something he is passionate about – support for children and families in poverty…

Following a campaign he spearheaded, the government announced in November that it would spend more than £400m to support poor children and their families in England.

Megan Rapinoe

Like Rashford, World Cup-winning United States international Megan Rapinoe uses her platform to promote social causes – whether that’s LGBTQ+ inclusion or issues of racial injustice…

She has one of the biggest followings of any female footballer, and the fact she managed to get Joe Biden, now president of the United States, on to a live chat shows the clout she has.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

Back to something facile – here’s Liverpool midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Little Mix star Perrie Edwards pioneering a new dance move and new way to sweep the floors…

This video became the gold standard for couples in isolation during lockdown 1.0.

Karen Bardsley

The Manchester City goalkeeper has built a great Instagram persona full of home workouts and physical comedy like this…

And this…

Jose Mourinho

We’ve really loved watching the Special One find his voice on Instagram this year. His bemused-dad-who-doesn’t-really-understand-social-but-is-somehow-accidentally-quite-brilliant-at-it energy has been giving us life.

From bemoaning modern youth culture…

To quite enchanting videos of him buffing his shoes…

To this type of staged passive aggression…

Sam Kerr’s dog

OK, not technically a footballer, or even a human actually… but just look at Billie the boxer, the dog of Australia captain Sam Kerr…

Do not try to be cool or cynical about this. We do not buy it.

Losers

Robert Lewandowski

While Gotze and Bridge have managed to capture a youth audience on TikTok while retaining their dignity, we’re disillusioned by the fact Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski does this kind of thing when he’s left on his own…

A five-time Bundesliga top-scorer does not need to do this.

Toni Kroos

The Germany midfielder isn’t exactly synonymous with ‘fun’ – in November he engaged in a quite unseemly Twitter spat with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after describing the Arsenal striker’s penchant for incorporating superhero masks into his goal celebrations as setting a bad example to children.

No wonder, then, that this call to action for his new TikTok account looks like something he agreed to under duress…

Memphis Depay

The Lyon forward has had a big year, and dropped a new album – Heavy Stepper – in November.

However, posting pictures of himself with an exotic animal in March – just as Tiger King became the world’s most-watched programme, and the domestication of exotic animals like tigers and lions looked passe – probably wasn’t his most carefully managed bit of public relations…

Saul Niguez

Back in June, the Spanish defender spent three days teasing people on Twitter about a ‘new club’ announcement…

He was strongly linked with Manchester United… then announced he and his brother were setting up an academy…

Erling Braut Haaland

Bit harsh this one, but we have to put it in there.

The Borussia Dortmund striker was publicly reprimanded by his old man on Twitter in July, which is just not a very good look.

After the conclusion of last season, we enjoyed these wholesome updates of Haaland Jr spending some time with his dad out in the sticks…

Soon afterwards, however, a rather less savoury video went viral, showing Haaland being kicked out of a Norwegian nightclub.

As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, his dad then rinsed him in public…

The overexuberance of youth, hey?

About Frank Rideout