SK Amaze: Marco van Basten wondergoal
A belated Happy Birthday to Marco van Basten - and thank you, for this and so many other moments of pure magic
It's Netherlands vs. The USSR in the final of Euro '88 and the clock has just ticked over to 53'. With Ruud Gullit having given the Dutch the lead around the half-hour mark they are well and truly in the driving seat. The USSR, though, were a tough team packed with matchwinners and game changers and they are upping the ante.
Aleksandr Zavarov tries to cut in through the middle, but a poor touch lets him down and Adri van Tiggelen pounces on it immediately and motors straight back down the pitch. Zavarov tries to stop the old-fashioned way, by tugging at his shirt, but he's too tired – the Dutch had been passing the ball around with too much pace and precision, and as a central midfielder he had already run his feet to the ground, chasing behind the whirring blurs of Oranje – and his desperate lunge grasps naught but thin air.
As van Tiggelen strolls forward – surprisingly unopposed – he has Ruud Gullit and his glorious hair for company right alongside him while Arnold Mühren is powering forward on his left and Marco Van Basten is loitering around the edge of the box, far out on the right.
Van Tiggelen weighs his options and strokes it to the left and into the path of Mühren, who in turn takes it first time and lifts it deep to Van Basten. The ball is in the air an interminably long time before it reaches him.
There's nothing on for the Dutch striker here, he's too far out and the angle is way too acute to try anything. If the completely quiet stadium is anything to go by, that's what everyone on the scene thought.
They just forgot who was on the receiving end.
Marco Van Basten had been making a name for himself doing the impossible – fast, precise and ruthless, the Dutchman had made defences irrelevant while spearheading Ajax, and more recently Arrigo Sacchi's Milan.
When he saw the ball drop, he planted his left foot on the ground and smacked the most perfect first-time volley in the history of the European Championships, if not the game, around Vassily Rats and over a completely stunned Rinat Dasayev. Nicknamed the “iron captain”, Dasayev was a brilliant goalkeeper; but no goalie in the world would have a chance with that strike.
The stunned faces of Vagiz Khidiyatullin, Sergei Aleinikov, and Ruud Gullit – all of whom were expecting van Basten to lift a cross into the mixer – and the look of joyous disbelief on Rinus Michel’s visage were mirrored across the stadium and the watching world. There's a millisecond of silence before the ball hits the net that accentuates that – before the whole place erupts!
When asked what prompted him to shoot, van Basten said – and you can't make this up - “ I was tired, the very thought of bringing it down, then attempting to dribble... *bleah*... so I just gave it a try!”
If this goal had been scored by 99.99% of the footballers that play this game, we'd have called it a fluke. With van Basten, though you know he meant it!
For this goal – and a career of unadulterated awesomeness, van Basten is our #SKAmaze of the day
If you, however, think that the goal was a fluke, or, if you think I am exaggerating about the talents of the great Dutchman, sample this –