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You Can’t Ride a ‘Bicycle’ in Soccer

On 11/15/12, it happened in Stockholm, but few Americans were watching it on TV. One did not actually know what was going on, until the “Play of the Day” popped up on Good Morning America (GMA). The acting anchor (Josh Elliot) usually has interesting topics when “Play of the Day” appears, but this time it showed a Swedish soccer player’s stunning goal in a match against England.

Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic ran through the field on Thursday after scoring a shocking [Bicycle kick - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia] from 30 yards out on 11/15/12. A replay of the feat in the game itself: [http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more-sports/soccer-world-toasts-ibrahimovic-goal-article-1.1202471#ixzz2CcEiKXT3]

For all those non-soccer players reading about a ‘bicycle’ kick, it is a kick of a ball towards a goal, while the kicker is in midair. The kicker’s head is usually closest to the ground, and facing away from the goal. Its mastery is so difficult, few soccer players even try it.

The acrobatic skill and handling of the ball generally required, has often made it nearly impossible for players to make the move in stressful situations. Only 17 players have ever scored more than once using a ‘bicycle’ kick (including Pele, Ronaldinho, David Arellano, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Billy Bremner) to name a few.

The soccer game was played In Stockholm, Sweden. A Swiss 4-2 win came after Ibrahimovic’s goal in a friendly (not official) match against England. In a truly masterful performance, Ibrahimovic scored all 4 of Sweden’s goals, initially having the extremely rare “hat trick” (3 goals in one game).  

Interpretations of this 90th-minute goal was, the greatest goal of the year. “Goal of the Century,” was the headline pasted in Daily Telegraph. The “hat trick” undoubtedly gave Ibrahimovic confidence to attempt such a recklessly bold shot. Chasing a long pass, Ibrahimovic held back when the England goalkeeper rushed to clear the ball with a header, just outside the penalty box. 

He turned, and leapt high before the ball touched the ground. His back to the goal, he kicked the ball overhead, looping over the goalie and two defenders. When he shot from the side of the field 30 yards away, he put the ball in the corner of the net.

Ibrahimovic is one of the few players who could pull off such an athletic feat of this much tenacity and co-ordination. As he scored his 39th goal for Sweden, the stadium became a massive eruption of joy, as only a soccer stadium can be. Ibrahimovic brazenly whipped off his shirt in celebration.

For those diehard football fans who think soccer is a boring, low-scoring sport, the above scenario should possibly change your mind. Throw in the video [http://bustasports.com/italian-soccer-commentator-goes-crazy-after-last-second-goal/], and you’ll find soccer excitement is in the eye of the beholder. 

For those not viewing the video, a last-minute goal has just been scored, with the announcer going absolutely apoplectic, and screaming the word ‘GOAL-GOAL-GOAL’—19 distinct times. This Italian commentator covering the Juventus/Roma game went crazy. Strange, the whole telecast was in Italian. But everyone knew what he was saying. After this goal, the commentator’s voice was measured to rise at least two octaves.

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Kevin Roeten can be reached at roetenks@charter.net.

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