14 title matches, 45 goals, four champions. That’s the story in brief of the Unofficial Football World Champions in 2013. It’s been another exciting year, with the UFWC taking followers on a fascinating journey via some of football’s less-travelled paths.

2013 began with North Korea as Unofficial Football World Champions. The Koreans had held the title for more than a year, and provided plenty of entertainment, but their reign came to an end in 2013’s first title match, a Thailand King’s Cup game in January against Sweden.

The score was 1-1 after 90 minutes, and the match was decided on penalties. Amazingly the North Koreans, who looked so efficient throughout their long UFWC reign, seemed to lose all composure in the shoot-out, and lost 4-1. Sweden were the new UFWC champions.

Swedish coach Erik Hamrén had jokingly stated before the match that the UFWC would be “obviously an additional motivating factor”. And he was “pretty damn happy” with his side’s triumph. Goalkeeper Pär Hansson was also proud of Sweden’s title. “I heard that we are world champions now,” he told Sportbladet. “I can boast about this for a long time to come.”

Three days later, Sweden defeated neighbours Finland 3-0 to retain the UFWC title and win the 2013 King’s Cup. The win was Sweden’s 28th in UFWC history. That remarkable record put them in 7th place on the all-time rankings table, clear of Italy and Germany, and only one win behind the mighty Brazil.

But Sweden’s latest reign as UFWC champs didn’t last long. A February friendly against Argentina matched up Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Lionel Messi. Both captained their countries, but it was Messi who delivered the man of the match performance. Argentina won 3-2 and became the new unofficial champions.

In March, Argentina defended their title in a couple of World Cup qualifiers, beating Venezuela 3-0 and drawing with Bolivia 1-1. Another couple of qualifiers in June, against Colombia and Ecuador, also resulted in draws. A big 4-0 friendly win over Guatemala followed, with Messi scoring a hat-trick. Messi missed the next match, a friendly against Italy, but Argentina still won 2-1.

World Cup qualifying resumed in September, and Argentina put five past Paraguay, then scored three against Peru in a couple of impressive wins. However, Argentina’s UFWC reign came to an end in Montevideo in October, when they lost a World Cup qualifier 3-2 to Uruguay. Edinson Cavani scored a second half winner for the new champions.

Uruguay were still looking to qualify for the 2014 World Cup via a two-legged play-off against Jordan. Under UFWC rules, each play-off leg counted as a separate title match. Uruguay won the first in Amman 5-0, and were effectively through to the World Cup finals. Jordan played bravely in the second leg, and could perhaps have won the UFWC title. However, Uruguay held out for a 0-0 draw, retained the title, and ended 2013 as unofficial football world champions.

Lionel Messi was the UFWC’s top scorer in 2013 with six goals, despite the fact that he missed a couple of Argentina’s title matches through injury.

Below is a full list of all 14 2013 UFWC title matches. You can click on the links for match details.

23/01/13 NORTH KOREA 1-1 SWEDEN* KC Chiang Mai, Thailand
26/01/13 SWEDEN 3-0 FINLAND KC Chiang Mai, Thailand
06/02/13 SWEDEN 2-3 ARGENTINA FR Solna
23/03/13 ARGENTINA 3-0 VENEZUELA WCQ Buenos Aires
26/03/13 BOLIVIA 1-1 ARGENTINA WCQ La Paz
07/06/13 ARGENTINA 0-0 COLOMBIA WCQ Buenos Aires
11/06/13 ECUADOR 1-1 ARGENTINA WCQ Quito
15/06/13 GUATEMALA 0-4 ARGENTINA FR Guatemala City
14/08/13 ITALY 1-2 ARGENTINA FR Rome
10/09/13 PARAGUAY 2-5 ARGENTINA WCQ Asunción
11/10/13 ARGENTINA 3-1 PERU WCQ Buenos Aires
16/10/13 URUGUAY 3-2 ARGENTINA WCQ Montevideo
13/11/13 JORDAN 0-5 URUGUAY WCQ Amman
20/11/13 URUGUAY 0-0 JORDAN WCQ Montevideo

As it stands, Uruguay have won 18 UFWC title matches, and stand 11th in the all-time ranking table. They need another seven wins to break into the top ten alongside France, who have 25 wins. It’s entirely possible that they could get those seven wins in 2014.

As we know, Uruguay have qualified for the World Cup in Brazil next summer, and have been drawn in Group D with Costa Rica, England and Italy. Uruguay’s first World Cup match will be on 14 June in Fortaleza against Costa Rica. UFWC followers who are into online football betting will likely regard Uruguay as a decent outside bet to win the tournament for the third time in the country’s history.

There are warm up matches to be played ahead of the World Cup, and we can expect at least a couple of UFWC title matches before the big kick off in June 2014. It’s already been announced that Uruguay will play Austria in Klagenfurt on 5 March, and as things stand that will be the next UFWC title match.

We will, of course, have news of other fixture announcements and full coverage of the title matches right here. You can keep up to date by following us on on Twitter or Facebook.

Ahead of that, we’ll be bringing you full details of new UFWC book, which is out in January. It’s a revised and updated edition of Unofficial Football World Champions, bigger, better, and right up to date for the start of 2014. We’ll bring you a full preview in the new year. If you can’t wait that long, you can pre-order the book from Amazon using the link below.

Unofficial Football World Champions – Revised and Updated

Oh, and the biggest news of all – the UFWC website is getting a makeover. Look out for the new site launch over the Christmas period. We hope you like it. Have a merry Christmas and a happy New Year, and thanks for following the UFWC.