Relegation is too much to take when awkward conversations with girls and keeping your trainers brilliantly white are the main concern of your meagre existence.
Which was why I was so grateful for Harry Kewell on that beautiful May day in 2003.
Leeds had been battling struggling all season, had sacked everyone’s favourite Cockney geezer El Tel and desperately needed a result at title contenders, Arsenal.
But the little left-footed Aussie had other plans. Just five minutes in, and having barely removed my spotlessly clean Stan Smiths, Kewell was set free between Carthorse Keown and Oleg Luzhny by a long ball from Jason Wilcox.
Two bounces later, and before you could say ‘Another year without a title for Arsene’, Kewell, on the extreme left hand edge of the area, had thrown a muscular thigh at the ball, propelling himself off the ground, the ball into the far corner of the net and David Seaman’s glossy ponytail deep into the Highbury turf.
Now, there were many reasons the goal shouldn’t have been a classic: Kewell’s weak-wristed boxing celebration, obviously nicked from Oz teammate Tim Cahill, was more at home in a toddler’s playgroup; a svelte Mark Viduka (he didn’t always used to be tubby you know..) scored a brilliant winner in the 88th minute which was equally deserving of plaudits. And, more than both of those, Kewell’s goal inadvertently handed the title to Leeds’ cross-Pennine rivals, Manchester United. Never something you want to do.
But Kewell’s early goal made me believe that relegation wouldn’t come into it that day. And for a 14-year-old continually trying to think of witty things to say to fearful female classmates, it was a gift from above.
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