The Greatest Goal I Ever Saw: Liverpool Legend Rushie's Winner Against The World Champions
Nostradamus has nothing on football fans. Seriously, let me explain. I was with some mates the other night and I remarked that I kind of knew Celtic would beat Barcelona in the Champions League and immediately two others chimed 'and we did!'. And anyone who has watched football all their lives will know what I mean here. Sure, we all know the two great defaults of every fan are optimistic or pessimistic but every so often you just know, you seem to automatically have that feeling that one team (hopefully yours) will win tonight. I've had it in the most preposterous mismatches too. Merthyr vs Atalanta in the European Cup Winners Cup. That was easily the most ridiculous. The Beazer Homes Midland Champions beating the Serie A Italian Cup Runners Up. Absurd! But they did. Cardiff of League 1 beating then Premiership leaders Leeds. I just knew.
Now I'm not saying this is all the time, but the feeling I had before these particular games was so overwhelming that i even told people, to much derision, but often others would nod as if to say I have that very same feeling. I had that before the game when that contained the greatest goal I ever saw. It was June 5th 1991 and Wales were playing the then world champions Germany. Easily the best team in the world where as we had in our team Andy Melvile of Oxford and Peter Nicholas of Watford but you know what, it didn't matter, because up front was a deadly trio of Dean Saunders, Mark Hughes and Ian Rush and they were all in their prime. We'd hammered a decent Belgian team in the previous October and under Terry Yorath we had real hopes of qualifying. Can I say at this point it's really hard being Welsh. The reason for this is Wales is in Europe and as anyone from a small country will tell you it's really really hard to qualify for a major football tournament and I mean REALLY hard. Even England don't sometimes and when your always in groups with either Italy, Germany or Spain and then a load of really good Scandinavian or Easten European sides then it becomes impossible and so allows the astonishingly corrupt FIFA/UEFA to clap merrily while some awful Oceania team or Russia go through so guaranteeing more TV revenues but no Rush, Hughes, Giggs or Bale, much to the detriment of the tournament.
Still, we beat Germany that night and gave FIFA and UEFA a magnificent two fingers. The goal itself wasn't spectacular like Maradona's in Mexico or Gemmill's in Argentina but the way that Rush took what wasnt even half a chance against the best defence in the world was astonishing. A speculative long ball was punted towards the moustacheoed North Walian who just happened to be the meanest striker on the planet, which evened things out a bit. And as he just put the burners on to give him that legendary extra yard he caught the German defence square and allowed the ball to drop over his shoulder and despite a quite startling attempt to foul him he kept his balance and half volleyed the ball home with pin point precision past the despairing German keeper and the Arms Park went f*cking mental. And I mean properly f*cking mental too, after all, we were beating the World Champions 1-0 not in some pointless friendly but in a game they were desperate to win and Ian Rush holding his arms up triumphantly to the 30 odd thousand celebrating Taffs was a moment I'll never forget. We won the game too. I remember a headline in one English tabloid the next morning, it said 'Killer Wales! Wales do what England couldn't and beat Germany!' Honestly, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. So, you're probably wondering.....did we go through? Of course not. We came second in the group only one point behind Germany even managing to draw with Scifo era Belgium in Brussells (I was there) but that year UEFA only let the winners through (of course) so we missed out again. Still for a few months we were the best team in the world. Well in my world anyway, where I knew we'd win that game. Honest.
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