The ridiculously difficult San Marino challenge on Football Manager takes ‘decades’ to complete

San Marino last won a game of football way back in 2004 and as the national side gets ready to take on St Kitts and Nevis in a game they have a genuine chance of winning, a small group of hardy gamers will know exactly how difficult the challenge is facing the tiny nation.

Boasting a population of just 30,000, San Marino is one of the world’s smallest countries to enter official FIFA tournaments. Thrashing are the norm and in 2006 the national team was beaten 13-0 by Germany in what was a low moment for the side.

So difficult has life been for San Marino’s mostly amateur side that they even had a stretch of 14 years without an away goal and their top scorer ever, the legendary Andy Selva, has just eight international goals to his name.

As San Marino get set to face St Kitts and Nevis – a match in which they are finally favourites to win – Football Manager players will be keeping an eye on the result.

That is because for over a decade fans of the popular management simulation have been taking part in one of the most ridiculous and most difficult challenges on the game and it is one that even the most hardcore players have failed at.

The Sammarinese Challenge first appeared on the Sports Interactive Forums back in 2013 and each year players take up the challenge with a simple goal; win the Champions League with a team from San Marino and take the national team to World Cup glory.

Apart from the sheer paucity of decent players turning out for San Marino, players have a huge number of other obstacles to tackle. They can choose a team from the amateur San Marino league and try to navigate multiple European qualifying rounds against top European teams to build up a sufficient financial base to go pro. However, this can take years to achieve and any good players signed on amateur contracts can be poached immediately.

The San Marino league can be added as an additional file downloaded from Steam but there is a second option. Downloading Italy’s Serie D league – the fourth tier of Italian football – opens up the chance to manage San Marino based Victor San Marino. Promotion will eventually lead to the riches of Serie A and could be a fast track to the top. However, newly generated players may not always have San Marino nationality, meaning it could be slower progress to build the national side up.

Players who take on the gruelling challenge would need to build club facilities to encourage youth development.

The challenge says: “The basic idea is that you manage both the San Marino club side, (who start the game in Serie C1/A), and the San Marino National Team, using the players produced by an improved club academy to benefit the NT in a long-term save. If you are just interested in a challenge that will take you a few seasons then this ISN’T for you. It is likely to be measured in terms of decades rather than seasons because it is likely that you will be the only club producing players of a sufficient quality to impact on the NT as soon as your NT gains any real level of success.”

Despite the utterly incredible difficulty of the challenge players do pick it up every year, with some managing teams well into the 2050s in an effort to break in to the world’s elite nations.

It is not clear if anybody has actually completed the challenge but a number of players have managed to break into the top 100 countries in the world, secure qualification to major tournaments and win major trophies with San Marino-based club sides.

You can see the challenge here.

Pic By Labicanense – Own work, CC BY 4.0,

Stephen Hurrell
Stephen Hurrell
Stephen is the founder and editor of The Hobby Online and The Hobby by Subbuteo.Online print magazine. He is a giant nerd and specialises in Subbuteo, retro football kits and consumer stories. A journalist and editor of 15 years, he has written about football for some of the UK's biggest publications.

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