There is a lot being said and written about great goals at the moment. Everyone has their favourite but for me there will always be one goal that stands above the rest. There are moments in everyone’s life that have a significant impact. Football has always been a part of my life, although it took me a while to really get into it, I am now at the stage where it’s become an all consuming passion. I first started playing football properly when I was 10. I had been playing for my local village youth team for a couple of years and had really fell in love with the game, all I wanted to do was play football. I used to watch any and all football I could, we didn’t have Sky so most of the live football I saw came from Italy courtesy of channel 4 with James Richardson and the brilliant and notorious theme music.
I very quickly fell in love with A.C Milan, there was something magical about the way that team played, so slick and so technical; they made the game look easy. The imposing sight of the San Siro (Stadio Giuseppe Meazza) was unlike anything my young eyes had previously seen. At that point the only grounds I’d encountered were Villa Park and Carrow Road, I always wanted to visit it (and still do) and dreamt of playing there and wearing the black and red and being adored by the Rossoneri fans.
During the mid 90’s the Milan team boasted some giants of the game. Players like Paulo Maldini and Franco Baresi were the stallwarts and would go on to become legends. Watching them defend with such intelligence and poise was a far cry from the physical game I’d see on Match of the Day. I remember watching Zvonimir Boban and Demetrio Albertini control the midfield, with such a glorious appreciation for the ball in possession, they kept hold of it and sprayed it around the park and I thought to myself, this is the way football should be played.
One player however stood out beyond all the others and his name was George Weah. He had pace, he had power, he had strength but most of all, he had skill. He played the game in a way that captured my imagination and I wanted to play like him. I got myself a pair of red Diadora boots just like his and set about trying to re-create everything George Weah would do for Milan on a cold Sunday morning in Norfolk.
His greatest moment came against Verona in 1996, in a game I was watching live on channel 4, he picked the ball up in his own area when Milan were defending a corner. He took the ball down and he simply ran. He ran with it, head down, beating anyone who attempted to get in his way, brushing them aside, moving at such pace that nobody could stay with him and after beating three players and running near on the full length of the pitch, found the skill, balance and composure to roll the ball home into the corner of the net with a truly phenomenal finish.
You might claim that the finish isn’t that good, but you have to take into account what has gone before, he has covered the length of the pitch on a run, it would be easy to simply blast the ball at the keeper, spoon it wide or launch it over, his legs could have gone, any number of things could have happened, but the ball was always going to end up in the net. I think when the ball found the bottom corner I truly fell in love with football, I had seen something beautiful, something so incredible that it left an indelible mark on me.
From then on, all I wanted to do was dribble round people and score goals, a lad who played for Sherringham once asked me “are you the player with the red boots who is good at dribbling?” Yes I answered with a huge smile on my face, I try and play like George Weah!