To many around the world, football isn’t just a mere sport; it is an escape. It symbolises hope and freedom. A chance at equal opportunity and to rub shoulders with the best in the world irrespective of political, cultural or financial backgrounds.
While footballers are often portrayed by the media as pompous and spoiled, parading around with ostentatious displays of wealth and a party lifestyle, this does not accurately represent a large community in the footballing world; many took up the sport because it was their true passion, their opportunity at a better life and a chance to become heroes to their people.
So, it shouldn’t be a surprise to learn that they are after all human; they are affected by casualties, stress and pressure and are prone to breakdowns on the field. Disrespectful chants and jeers from the crowd can actually affect their psyche and play, whether they like to show it or not.
Thus there have been some incredibly passionate moments throughout the game’s storied history, with the fans getting a direct taste of the softer side of football.
Here, we take at 5 of the most emotional moments to have gone down on a footballing pitch.
#5 Oliver Kahn consoles Canizares
Oliver Kahn will probably go down in history as one of the greatest ever goalkeepers to have graced a footballing pitch. Besides his incredible ability to save games with athletic stops, the big German had a heart of gold.
In the buildup to the 2001 Champions League final, both Kahn and Valencia’s keeper Santiago Canizares had suffered heartbreaking losses in finals previously; Kahn to Manchester United’s incredible stoppage time heroics in the 1999 final and Canizares to Real Madrid in the 2000 final.
So, it was pretty clear that redemption was in sight for one of the two as they faced off in a high-stakes final in the San Siro.
With the game tied at 1-1 after 120 minutes, the onus was on the keepers to keep their side in the game and bring the trophy home. However, it was to be another gut-wrenching loss for Canizares as Kahn’s save off Mauricio Pellegrino’s penalty saw Bayern run out as winners.
Canizares was inconsolable, lying on the field in tears having suffered a second consecutive loss in a final. Kahn having spotted this stopped celebrating and went over to comfort him. This incredible act of sportsmanship was recognised by UEFA and Kahn was awarded the fair play award for his actions.