The Greatest Goal I Ever Saw: Spurs' Gazza vs. Arsenal, FA Cup Semis 1991
The 1991 semi-final game is one of the most memorable for Spurs fans, triumphing over our rivals 3-1 thanks to two Gary Lineker and worldie from Gazza. A North London Derby is never taken lightly, and over 80,000 fans were piled into Wembley stadium. Tensions were rife and nerves were in tatters.
Gascoigne shouldn’t have even been playing as the match followed his abdominal operation and he was told by doctors not to feature, however he started the game full of energy much to everyone’s surprise, passing the ball around with ease and out-skilling his opponents with pirouettes and ball rolls galore. A free-kick was awarded early by referee Ray Lewis after a late challenge on Paul Stewart. Gazza ran straight over to the ball and placed it down, much to the dismay of Gary Lineker who knew he wouldn’t be able to have the ball at his own feet after Gazza had placed it so merely gave him ‘a few words of advice’. The wall was in place, with the referee running to his mark as Gascoigne prepared.
What happened next was simply magic. In a time where balls weren’t as light or designed to curve and curl in any possible way – what Gascoigne did looked pretty much impossible (give or take a few Brazilians).
Gazza took a deep breath, ran up, and smashed the ball over the wall. One of the world’s greatest ‘keepers ever David Seaman (really - and that’s coming from a Spurs fan), dived to his left but it was merely for show. He never stood a chance and would be the first to admit it. The ball sailed into the top-right corner touching the side netting as it went in. It was perfect.
Arsenal fans were stunned and Tottenham fans went berserk. I imagine even some of the Arsenal fans wanted to or did clap the wondergoal. How could you not?
In an interview with Ray Stubbs after the game Gazza’s response to the game is almost as famous as his goal:
Ray Stubbs: "It's a bit of a fairytale really…"
Gazza: "I'm happy, so happy. Couldn't sleep last night, had to have a couple of injections I was so nervous. I'm now. Away. To Get. Me Suit. MEASURED [punches the air]. YES!"
Stubbs: "What about your start?"
Gazza: "Ah it wasn't bad was it? [Pulls funny face]. EEEEE!"
Technique, skill and passion; three words which epitomised Paul Gascoigne. One of the best players of his generation scored one of the best goals ever seen. This was the real start of ‘Gazzamania’.