It’s been almost 48 hrs since what people describe as ‘THAT GOAL’ was scored. And I’m still breathless about it.
If you were one of the lucky seventy thousand like myself to be crammed inside The Theatre when Wayne Rooney took to the skies and smashed in the most spectacular goal of a generation, you will understand that it was almost like a moment of spiritual gravitas. A religious experience. When time stands stills. When your heart stops and the world suddenly become visceral. And that cosmic magic through the power of satellites and communications spreads across the planet at the speed of light to the football universe, creating a collective primal scream that you could hear from Mars. It was as beautiful and artistic as a split second in sport could be. This is why we love football.
The last time I felt a moment like this in the flesh was many moons ago. 1994 to be precise. I was stood (back in the days of terracing) behind the goal at Selhurst Park, wearing the very same Green & Gold top that I wore last Saturday. And I witnessed the genius of Eric Cantona, and his magic cushion and volley strike against Wimbledon in the cup. That goal was the same as Wayne’s. A true rarity. Like when they do the flash multi angle replays on FIFA 11 when they slow time down to an almost snail pace so you see every movement and contortion. When a few seconds suddenly turns into a whole feature film. As Eric controlled the ball you heard the collective intake of breath of the United fans hit the pause button. No more oxygen could be consumed. We waited for him to hit it and break the net. In fact, we knew he would hit it…..and break the net. The delirious scenes that followed were ones of pure wonder and enjoyment. Like we had witnessed a messiah do his first moonwalk over the Manchester Ship Canal. It was biblical.
Roo’s overhead kick was the same. Except it was better.
And why? Because of the moment of the game we were in, the team we were playing, and what it could mean to the title at the end of the season.
I think I’ve attended over 500 games over the years, and I can say without hesitation that Rooney’s goal is the best I have personally witnessed. As Nani crossed the ball I remember having the distinct thought ‘What the f@3k is Rooney doing. Control it, don’t go all Hollywood.’ The next second I was in the middle of a mini nervous breakdown as from my vantage I watched the ball direct itself towards the top corner. In that split second …nothing matters in life. Not the bad stuff. Not even the good stuff. It’s one of those brief seconds in life where you truly live in the moment. History is forgotten. The future is just an idea. As it slammed in and I watched Rooney run across the K Stand to celebrate I frantically looked for the ref and lineman. I couldn’t believe what I’d seen. I was waiting for it to be chalked off. I didn’t know why. But I knew that when I celebrated I would almost do myself an injury. Two seconds later, we were all in our Red heaven and in each others arms.
For some, Rooney’s goal is his redemption for all the bile that went before his probable departure from the club earlier in the season. For many, Rooney will never win a place back in their hearts. Sub human, filthy rich and a dirty Scouser. He will never win them back. For me it is not about that. What Rooney gives Manchester United is energy. An engine. It’s why we loved Tevez. The player that puts his body on the line will always be the player The Faithful take to the most. It’s not just about goalscorers. Arguably the most popular player at the club at the moment is Vidic. The skipper. The one who chucks his head at opponents boots and runs through fire and ice for the cause. Rooney is from this gene pool in footballing terms.
His goal against Man City will be played over and over and over for eternity. It will probably define his career. And everytime we witness the three millionth replay of ‘THAT’ goal we will feel the same spine tingle that you feel when you see Cantona’s volley. When you see Solskjaer’s flick in 1999. When you see Giggs run through the Arsenal defense and reveal his chest rug. When you see Michael Owen toe poke the ball into the bottom corner against the Bitters in the 94th minute. When you see Bruce head the ball into the net and Brian Kidd sinks to his knees, with Fergie dancing.
It can only be described as an instant classic. A real Manchester United miracle moment.
Rooney still has a way to go. His form has improved in the last few weeks, and if we are to overtake Liverpool’s joint championship record total of league titles, we will need him ever so much. Last year the main feature of our season was Antonio Valencia…raiding down the wing to cross the ball onto a part of Rooney’s body to score. And last Saturday saw the Ecuadorian return to full training. If we can get some of that history repeating itself, then title number nineteen will be well within our grasp.
Im off to watch another replay of ‘THAT GOAL’ now!