2006 gave its share of incidents and some override others for their display of impudence, trickery or maybe even idiocy. These are our Top 5 footballing moments(On the pitch) of the year:
5) Gerrard’s goal in the FA Cup Final
Into stoppage time in what turned out to be one of the most exciting FA Cup finals ever, Liverpool were trailing to a reselient and a “fluky” West Ham side. My head was all over the place. Liverpool had retrieved a two goal deficit only to go and let a cross in. 3-2, with seconds on the clock.
Most Liverpool supporters were probably thinking ‘surely they can’t equalize now’ (I was, for one), when the stadium announcer went ‘The fourth official has indicated there will be a minimum of four minutes added time, four minu…’
The ball went to Steven Gerrard swung his right foot nearly 40 yards out to send a missile straight into the bottom corner of the net. Cue crowd exploding (the missile had nothing to do with it), Martin Tyler screaming like an idiot, and Gerrard pointing at the name on the back of his shirt. Liverpool went on to win the Cup on penalties, but even if they hadn’t, that goal would have gone down in history.
View the Video here: Gerrard (Liverpool vs West Ham United)
4) The Wink
The English National team is synonymous with under achievement and especially under ex boss Sven Goran had the dastardly habit of entering big tournaments under a blizzard of hype and then leaving the tournament without as much as a whimper. And for the third time in as many tournaments, Sven had to meet his nemesis Scolari as England faced Portugal. For once, England seemed to be having the edge until Wayne Rooney got involved in an off the ball incident with Ricardo Carvalho. The kick seemed innocuous but before the referee could stop and think, Rooney’s pain in the butt teammate Ronaldo arrived and protested to the referee. Whether or not, this lead to Rooney’s subsequent sending off is anyone’s guess, but the English forward blamed the sidestepping Right winger for his role. The highlight of the night was when Christiano looked over to his bench and made what is now the infamous wink.
Since then, the two (Rooney and Ronaldo) have sorted things out and look set to capture the EPL championship this year, much to Roman’s chagrin.
View the video here: Ronaldo Wink (Rooney send off)
3)Champions League Final- Juliano Belleti & Thierry Henry:
For sheer drama and intensity, few matches in the year would compare to the CLE final of 2006. Although, the match could have been better had it ended 11 v 11, it had its share of heroics from Juliano Belleti and Henrik Larsson, villains in Jens Lehman and Almunia and the downright pathetic from Thierry Henry – 2 guilt edged chances and 1 blubbering rant. All in all, a Fantastic match to cap off a great tournament. Here’s hoping that Champions League 2007 lives up to the billing.
Video: Belleti against Arsenal
2) Grosso 119 minute strike.
Prior to the World Cup, only the most avid soccer fan would have known of Fabio Grosso. A left back of an unwieldy nature, Grosso played for a Serie C team as late as 2001. Even he would not have predicted his meteoric rise. What was to happen in 5 years time was the stuff of legend. After winning a dodgy penalty in the final stages of a tense encounter against Australia, Grosso put his own stamp to the semifinal against the hosts with the most exquisite of strikes. Operating with a small window , he managed to curl the ball into the right corner. The Germans were shell shocked. A penalty shootout would be straight down their alley but Italians can thank god for grosso. He went on to slot the winning penalty in the shootout against France in the Final.
View the goal here: Grosso’s goal against Germany
1) THE Headbutt:
The Number one Moment of the year has to be the infamous Zidane Headbutt. I’m sure the world gasped when television cameras caught the Frenchman knocking Marco Materazzi off his feet with a head butt that would do The Great Khali proud.There was much speculation as to what had provoked such a reaction but the incident was the butt(no pun intended) of several jokes from Late Show hosts and TV Sitcoms and even spawned a clothing range. What is known now is the Materazzi had made obscene remarks on Zizou’s sister. But little did he know that he would become the world most famous punching bag.
View the Video here: Zidane headbutt Materazzi