It’s FPL season – and for many of us, the excitement of a new football season hits no greater height than when we log in to Fantasy Premier League, select a frankly stupid team name and start spending that fresh £100 million. But while the vast majority of us are just aiming to beat our friends, family and Martin from accounts, others have set their sights way higher: no less than world domination.
Hailing from the possibly unlikely location of Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, Ali Jahangirov was last season’s FPL champion – a title many of us could only dream of. Yet the 33-year-old admits that the ordeal of beating 11.4 million other competitors to the crown was actually one of the most traumatic experiences of his life.
“It was so stressful for me, a really crazy experience,” the business consultant, who sealed victory on the final gameweek, explains to FFT.
Fantasy Premier League winner Ali Jahangirov (Image credit: Ali Jahangirov)
“I was watching multiple games, all at the same time – when we went into the second half of that final day, I thought that I was going to lose. I thought that all my good work of holding on to top spot would be for nothing.”
Jahangirov made sure to leave no stone unturned in his quest for glory – tracking Twitter and FPL websites constantly for up to the minute team news leaks, watching YouTube shows to find any edge from team-specific experts and browsing club sites for photos of the latest training sessions to check up on player availability.
The die-hard Arsenal fan was top of the league for six gameweeks heading into the final day, and had spreadsheets drawn up containing details of all of his rivals’ teams. There were sleepless nights along the way, but in the end all of it hinged on one substitution from Newcastle manager Eddie Howe. Had Callum Wilson not come on against Chelsea, FPL would have had a different champion.
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“It came down to the fact that one of my rivals had Brentford’s Ethan Pinnock on his bench,” Jahangirov says. “And he was set to come into his team in place of Wilson.”
In FPL, automatic subs are made if one of their starting 11 fails to feature that week. On this occasion, Jahangirov’s main rival had Wilson in his starting line-up, but Pinnock prepped to come on if the striker did not play.
Pinnock bagged 15 points thanks to his goal and a clean sheet against Manchester City, but Howe’s decision was vital: after 69 minutes, he summoned Wilson from the substitutes’ bench at Stamford Bridge.
Callum Wilson won Ali Jahangirov the FPL title last term (Image credit: Getty Images)
“It was stressful waiting for him to be brought in and it was just such a relief to win,” beams Jahangirov. “Those moments were difficult to describe as I double checked the live table. I won by five points. It was an amazing feeling.”
His prizes included a holiday, Premier League tickets, a Hublot watch and a laptop. “There’s some cool stuff,” he says. “I really want to get to a couple of Arsenal games. I’d love to meet some players while I’m over.”
More FPL stories
Ahead of the new FPL season, FFT have compiled a complete guide.
There are guides on how to use Free Hits, how to use substitutes, how to use Bench Boosts and how to score Bonus points. We also share with you how best to spend your budget.
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