Whenever footballers are asked to open up about an exceptionally talented fellow player, invariably they will say, “you must see what he does in training.” They might also add, “see what he does after the training session”. It’s normally after the training session that you do the kind of tricks for which the coach hands down a fine.
As the football training pitch becomes a barrack-authoritarian and regimented- the kind of skills that originally drew people to football have been outlawed (well, not really, but I hope you see what I mean). How often do you see the nutmeg and the back-heel, the bicycle kick or Rene Higuita’s Scorpion Kick in today’s football? In this list, it would be remiss to forget the keepy-uppy and in modern football no one executed it with such wide-grinned gusto and simplicity as Ronaldinho.
Common in all these acts are daring, sheer joie de vivre (or joie de football) and impudence. It is fitting that Supersport United defender Mor Diouf’s goal from just outside the edge of his own goal area was voted the Premier Soccer League goal of the season. A Mamelodi Sundowns player is trying to get past him and kicks the ball straight into his midriff. He rolls the ball into his path, spies the keeper off his line, and launches a goal-bound rocket. The keeper desperately backtracks, stretches a hapless arm, but the ball is in.
1-0 to United; and the clock reads 88 minutes. The match finishes 1-0 in favour of United. (Let’s remember that Xabi Alonso, who frequently scored spectacular half-way line goals from his own half during his time at Liverpool, was sold to Real Madrid by Rafael Benitez. The wisdom inside Benitez’s camp was, as reported by the Guardian in 2009, “Xabi got good at scoring those spectacular goals from inside his own half because he rarely got out of it.”)
For his impudence, Diouf-or rather his goal- got R50 000. That’s not a bad return for something you could receive a bollocking from the coach for that sort of insouciance. (Mor is less when it comes to celebrating by Diouf)
Photo: Karpati Gabor