Monday, December 15, 2008

More football joy

Bereft of playmates and at a loose end of a Monday evening, I once again found myself watching the CCTV5 'World Football Evening' tonight.

Last week, we got a barely intelligible 40-minute mishmash of highlights from recent Barca v Real Madrid matches: great moments of football, but no real story - it was difficult to distinguish the different games, or to keep track of the score in any individual one of them. Tonight we had a retrospective of the career of the great Brazilian striker Ronaldo. Again, there was no kind of coherence of presentation: clips from his recent spell at AC Milan were jumbled up - seemingly quite at random - with bits from the early and middle phases of his career. However, this didn't really matter too much, because essentially it was ALL GOALS. And what goals! The man had such power and pace as well as poise and balance, such a deft touch, such an overwhelming confidence. Almost all of these goals (probably 30 or more were shown) involved him picking the ball up 25 or 30 yards out (on quite a few occasions, perhaps 40 yards or more out; once, in his own half!), sensing a possible gap in the defence ahead and just making a bee-line for goal in a surging, unstoppable run. Time and again he did it. He must have scared the crap out of defences: square passes across the back line were definitely not a good idea when he was anywhere around.

However, the ultimate example of this sort of grace & power goal - tearing the guts out of a defence with devastating pace and unshakeable composure on the ball - has to be this one, from the phenomenal Liberian player George Weah, when he was playing for AC in the '90s. He wins the ball in his own penalty area and runs through the entire opposing team to score. I remember the Italian media dubbed it "the coast-to-coast goal". OK, it's only against lowly Verona, but still..... as one of the YouTube commenters observed when I first found this posted a year or two back, "sheer football pornography"! Also worth bearing in mind that many might have thought of him as being in the twilight of his career at this point, having enjoyed several prime years in France with Monaco and then PSG: this is the beginning of his second season in Italy, and he's just about to turn 30: but he would play another 4 seasons at Milan and rack up a total of 46 goals for them. There's more of 'King George' here - 10 best career goals.

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