In the past, they were a host of clubs that dominated football. They won their domestic trophies, excelled in continental competitions, and attracted the hight calibre of players. These clubs were exceptional in their heyday and were one of the most feared sides around. As with anything in life, nothing lasts forever, and so it was for these clubs who later experienced a great decline. For various reasons, many of these football clubs fell from grace, and either obscure or not where they are supposed to be.
Here are seven football clubs that used to be good.
1. Bolton Wanderers
Between 2001 to 2012, Bolton Wanderers FC were a pretty decent Premier League club. They qualified for the UEFA Cup (Europa League) twice, reaching the last 32 in 2005/06 and the last 16 in 2007/08. During that period they also attracted top football stars such as Iván Campo, Gary Cahill, Youri Djorkaeff, Nicolas Anelka and Jay-Jay Okocha.
Between 2003/04 and 2006/07, Bolton recorded consecutive top-eight finishes in the EPL, a record of consistency bettered only by the big four of Chelsea, Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal. The club were relegated in 2012, and entered into serious financial difficulties by 2015. Now, Bolton Wanderers are languishing in the EFL League One, the third tier of English football.
2. Hamburger SV
This club was a proud member of the German football establishment. The Red Shorts are one of the oldest clubs in Germany, having been founded on September 29th, 1887. Hamburg has a proud history of success on the football pitch. They won six Bundesliga titles and 2 DFB Ligapokals.
The golden era of the club was in the 1970s and early 80s which witnessed triumphs in European club competitions like the European Cup now Champions League in the 1982/83 season and Cup Winners’ Cup now Europa League in 1976/77. Since those heights, they experienced gradual decline until their eventual relegation from the German top flight in the 2017/18 season.
3. Olympique Marseille
The club used to be one of the dominant forces in French football, especially during the late 1980s to early 1990s. Marseille was very dominant in the French Ligue 1, winning 10 titles. They transferred their dominance to Europe, winning the UEFA Champions League in the 1992/93 season. The match-fixing scandal under former owner Bernard Tapie led to their demotion to the French second division. They briefly recovered in the late 2000s winning a league title and a few domestic cups, but have not won anything now for over a decade.
4. Nottingham Forest
This 157-year-old English Championship club used to be at the top of the echelon in the English game. Under enigmatic manager Brian Clough, they won a league title in the 1977/78 season. This provided the launch pad into the European Cup, now UEFA Champions League, which they famously won back-to-back in 1978/79 and 1979/80. From those dizzying heights, Forest has experienced great decline and now competes in the championship second division in England.
Parma dramatically rose to the pinnacle of Italian and European football throughout the 1990s and 2000s, but suffered a significant fall from grace. The club won eight trophies between 1992 and 2002, a and achieved its best ever league finish, as second-place in the 1996/97 season. Parma were declared bankrupt in 2015 after racking up debts of approximately €220million. A phoenix club was established, called Parma Calcio 1913, and currently competes in the Serie B, the 2nd tier of Italian football.
6. Aston Villa
The English Premier League side were very competitive for a brief period from the 1970s through the 80s to the mid-90s. They won the league in 1980/81 season, and even went as far as winning the European Cup (Champions League) in 1981/82. Years of decline, unfortunately, led to their relegation from the EPL in the 2015-16 season. In 2019 they won promotion back to the Premier League, where they currently compete.
7. UC Sampdoria
The Italian side, for a brief period in the 1980s, seemed to be the club that will break the dominance of the sides like Juventus, AC Milan, and Inter in the domestic game. A string of Coppa Italia titles and a Scudetto triumph in 1990/91 led to a second-place finish in the European Cup final of 1991/92. That, however, was as good as it got for l Blucerchiati, who suffered years of decline, including relegation and promotion back to the Serie A, where they are now mostly contented to finish mid-table.