Football Manager 2021: Zero to Hero Challenge

Yes, it's time for another Football Manager 2021 challenge and once again this challenge isn't going to be quick, easy or for the faint-hearted. The Zero to Hero Challenge can be done in any single top division in any continent but for the purposes of this article, we're focussing on the top four leagues in European football. The idea for this challenge is simple and one you will find in many challenges, make your team the best in its country.

However, we're not talking about winning the top division title once, oh no, this challenge is going to involve you turning your team into the most successful team in the selected country's history. For example, Man Utd are the most successful team in English football with 66 trophies to their name, so to complete this challenge your club must have more trophies in their cabinet than any other English club. Still sound easy? thinking of managing Liverpool who only have one fewer trophy to their name? Well, this is where the challenge really begins. You have to win more trophies than any other team with a club that has never won a trophy before… I told you this wasn't for the faint-hearted. As you can imagine this is a long haul save but one that should be really fun as well as challenging, which is really what all hardcore FM players want, isn't it? We're going to take a look at the top four leagues in Europe, the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and the Bundesliga, identifying the team whose record you need to beat and some of the teams you could try this challenge with.

Trophies include domestic and European Super Cups/Charity Shields, but excludes Club World Cup.

Premier League

Team to beat at start of the save: Man Utd – 66 major trophies (could increase as save progresses)

The Candidates

As of the start of the 2020/21 campaign, Crystal Palace, Fulham and Brighton and Hove Albion are the only Premier League sides never to have won a major trophy before. Either of these three clubs would be the easiest place to start this challenge, though, you could try your hand with a Championship club if you wanted to make your save enough more rewarding and more difficult.

Crystal Palace were coined ‘The Team of the 80s' before the decade began, due to the excellent youth players that had made their way into a first-team managed by Terry Venables, but things didn't work out for the Eagles. Fulham finished as runners-up in the 1975 FA Cup final as well as losing out in the final of the 2010 Europa League, perhaps you can turn the Cottagers into the dominant force in English football. Brighton made it through to the final of the 1983 FA Cup but that is as close as they have come to a major trophy in their 119-year history.

Serie A

platini juventus shirt

Team to beat at start of the save: Juventus – 66 major trophies (could increase as save progresses)

The Candidates

Sassuolo, Udinese, Spezia, Benevento and Crotone are the only teams in Serie A yet to have had their hands on a major domestic or European trophy. Of those five clubs, you would have to single out Sassuolo as the pick of the bunch as they have some excellent players and have challenged for European football in recent seasons. Udinese have an excellent youth system that brings in some of South America's hottest talents and this could be something to build a title-winning team around.

La Liga

Team to beat at start of the save: Barcelona & Real Madrid – 85 major trophies (could increase as save progresses)

The Candidates

Villarreal, Granada, Levante, Celta Vigo, Cadiz, Osasuna, Getafe, Huesca, Real Valladolid, Elche, Alaves and Eibar are all yet to win a major trophy, though some have come close to La Liga and Copa del Rey success. The obvious choice for the Zero to Hero challenge in Spain would have to be Villarreal. The Yellow Submarine have come close to winning the league title before and have the best foundation in place to challenge for the Copa del Rey in the opening season. All of the other clubs have potential, that's for sure, but if you are looking for the ultimate challenge then look no further Eibar, Elche and Huesca. It will be tough keeping either of these three teams in the top flight let alone turning them into a trophy-winning machine.


Team to beat at start of the save: Bayern Munich – 68 major trophies (could increase as save progresses)

The Candidates

RB Leipzig, Union Berlin, Freiburg, Augsburg, Hoffenheim, Mainz, and Bielefeld have not won the Bunesliga, DFB Pokal or an European trophies in their history. One of these names stands right out as the clear choice for the Zero to Hero Challenge, RB Leipzig. This is a team on the cusp of success. One of two signings, plus keeping hold of all your top players, is all you will need to do to guide this club to its first trophy. However, dethroning Bayern Munich as the top dogs could prove much trickier. Making sure you qualify for the Champions League will be key as the extra money will allow you to compete with the top teams for the best players. Taking on this challenge with RB Leipzig might well be the easiest but one of the most interesting Zero to Hero challenges across Europe's top four leagues.


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James Kelbrick

A lifelong Evertonian, James started writing for an Everton fan site in the mid-2000s and then developed his own blog covering football transfers from across Europe's big leagues before becoming a regular match preview and betting tips writer for Biggest Free Bets. James moved to Free Super Tips next, and then Racing Post, where he worked as a full-time writer for a few years, taking on extra responsibilities such as creating the schedule and assigning out work. Following that, James wrote for a number of websites including Fore Bet before joining Football Whispers in December 2020.