Steven Gerrard made his final appearance for Liverpool in the 6-1 defeat at Stoke City on 24 May Getty

From the departure of Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard to the recent dismissal of Jose Mourinho as Liverpool manager. IBTimes UK reviews some of the best football moments around Europe in the year 2015.

1. Steven Gerrard retirement – 24 May

The Liverpool legend revealed on January 2015 he would leave Anfield at the end of the season after making the "the toughest" decision of his life. Just months later, on 24 May, the midfielder played his last game for the Merseysiders at Stoke City while scoring his 186th goal in 710 appearances for the club.

Not even the embarrassing 6-1 defeat in that game or his failure to clinch a Premier League title overshadowed the career of one of the most important English footballers of all time, who won the Champions League, the UEFA Cup, three League Cups and the FA Cup before moving to MLS.

In Spain, meanwhile, the 2015 year also saw Iker Casillas and Xavi Hernandez leaving Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively after remarkable long careers at his boyhood clubs.

2. Barcelona repeat treble - 6 June

The Catalan giants made history after beating Juventus in the Champions League final to become the first team ever to win the treble on two occasions – having previously clinched both the La Liga title and the Copa del Rey.

Some predicted that no club would ever match the records of Pep Guardiola's side during the 2008-2009 season but only six years later Barcelona themselves did under Luis Enrique. They recently added the World Club Championship to their year of success while earlier in the season they claimed the Uefa Super Cup, only missing out on the Spanish Super Cup following defeat to Athletic Bilbao in the final.

3. Anthony Martial's record move – 1 September

Manchester United were tipped to make a big money move throughout the summer amid links with the likes of Neymar, Thomas Muller, Gareth Bale and even Cristiano Ronaldo. Instead, Louis van Gaal surprised everyone on deadline day when he broke the bank to make Martial the most expensive teenager in football history in a £36m ($54.1m) deal that could rise to £58m.

Meanwhile, in a summer where Real Madrid failed to lure any Galacticos to the Bernabeu and Barcelona were unable to act due to their Fifa transfer ban, the Premier League dominated with Manchester City particularly active in signing Raheem Sterling, Kevin De Bruyne, Nicolas Otamendi and Fabian Delph. None, despite the big money involved, were as surprising as the one which saw Martial move to their Manchester neighbours.

Iker Casillas-David De Gea
David De Gea was expected to replace Iker Casillas at Real Madrid. Getty

4. David de Gea's collapsed move to Real Madrid – 1 September

The drawn-out transfer of David de Gea from Manchester United to Real Madrid on deadline day last summer will be remembered for decades as one of the most ridiculous in the history of the 'deal done' signing that eventually never actually happened. The two biggest clubs in the world agreed terms for the transfer of the Spanish international - with Keylor Navas also included - after a long summer of speculations but failed to complete the easiest part: sending the paperwork on time to the La Liga headquarters.

Real Madrid blamed Manchester United for the inexperience of their board while the Old Trafford club said that Los Blanco were responsible for being too slow in processing the contracts. History, one way or another, will forever remember how the 'done deal' was never completed.

5. Wayne Rooney becomes England top scorer - 8 September

The Manchester United captain entered the record books early in September when he broke Sir Bobby Charlton's all-time England goalscoring record during a European Championship qualifier against Switzerland, converting a penalty to net his 50<sup>th goal in 107 appearances. The 30-year-old striker has since extended the record with one further goal during the emotional friendly against France played at Wembley in November following the terror attacks in Paris.

6. Robert Lewandowski scores five goals in nine minutes – 22 September

Lionel Messi, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Luis Suarez have each left their mark on 2015 with some memorable performances over the last year. But probably none of the Ballon d'or candidates' individual performances eclipsed the Bayern Munich striker in September when after he stepped off the bench against Wolfsburg at half time, he netted five goals in nine minutes and lead his side to a 5-1 victory.

Gareth Bale Wales
Gareth Bale led Wales to the Euro 2016. Getty

7. Wales and Northern Ireland qualify for European Championships - October

Wales secure the qualification to their first major tournament in 57 years after the game against Bosnia-Herzegovina in October. Chris Coleman's reached the tournament in France in anti-climatic fashion, as they suffered a 2-0 defeat to Cyprus, but little could overshadow the feat.

Just one day previous, Northern Ireland booked their passage to France to end 30 years without qualifying for a major tournament in 30 years after a 3-1 victory over Greece at Windsor Park.

8. Barcelona beat Real Madrid 4-0 in El Clasico – 21 November

The last 12 months have included some remarkable games, including Tottenham's 5-3 win over Chelsea on New Years Day, numerous exhibitions from Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga or from Chile in the Copa America in the summer. But Barcelona's 4-0 at Real Madrid in El Clasico on 21 November is arguably at the very top because both the display of the Luis Enrique's side and the rivalry between the clubs

With Lionel Messi starting the game on the bench following a spell on the sidelines, Luis Suarez's double, Neymar and Andres Iniesta completed a dominant victory at the home of the arch-enemies in probably the biggest game in European club football.

9. Jamie Vardy breaks Ruud van Nistelrooy record – 28 November

The 28-year-old striker hit the headlines in November after scoring in eleven consecutive Premier League games, ending with Leicester City's 1-1 draw against Manchester United – overtaking Ruud van Nistelrooy's previous record from 2003 when the Dutch hitman notched in ten successive matches.

The Vardy fairytale is made particularly special given how the forward was playing non-league football with Fleetwood Town just three ago. In addition, what his Leicester side have done in the new campaign to be top of the Premier League after 17 games also deserved a mention.

10. Jose Mourinho sacking – 17 December

The 17 December 2015 will remain as a major date in the history of Chelsea – and even of the Premier League - when the Blues decided for the second time to part ways with their most successful ever manager.

The board considered that being just one point away the relegation after nine defeats in 16 games was too much even for the man who only seven months after he led them to both the Premier League title and the Capital One Cup.