Football has seen its fair share of memorable moments. Whether it was a foul, an injury, a magical goal, a save or fights, football has always had many such incidents that people always remember. Some of them are beautiful and impressive while others can be terrible and ghastly to watch. There have been so many iconic players who have stood out for different reasons – Zlatan Ibrahimovic with his cockiness, Mario Balotelli’s antics, Jose Mourinho’s outspokenness, Louis van Gaal’s interviews, Martin Tyler’s commentary, are all just a few of many personalities who have etched their names in everyone’s minds for all they have said and done.
Here are a few of the good, the bad and the ugly incidents in football.
Cristiano Ronaldo bicycle kick for Real Madrid against Juventus
For those who missed this, go watch it now! This was one of the most iconic moments in football but what made it special was the appreciation the Portuguese star received from the Juventus fans. He received a standing ovation from the opposition’s fans who appreciated and respected the talent that Ronaldo is. It was one of the purest strikes you will ever see.
Ronaldo hit it so cleanly that Gianluigi Buffon was just standing stunned as it raced past his top left corner. Cristiano did this on the grandest stage of them all as his overhead kick helped Madrid beat Juventus in the first leg of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League quarterfinals in Turin.
Ronaldo called this his best goal ever. However, this was not the first time that opposition fans from the home side have applauded a player. There have been several instances before this as well with Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho, Thierry Henry, Andres Iniesta, Alessandro del Piero, Ronaldo (Brazilian), Franck Ribery and a few more have received the same receptions in the past from other fans but this one has to be the most iconic.
The appreciation and applause from the home crowd truly show the good side of football and how sometimes, you just have to accept that the other team or player is better than you and appreciate the greatness that is Cristiano Ronaldo.
Wayne Rooney overhead winner in Manchester derby
The year was 2011, Manchester United faced off against rivals Manchester City, the famous derby day. It was all square till the 78th minute when suddenly, out of nowhere, those who were fortunate enough to witness it live saw something incredibly special. Wayne Rooney twisted his body of a deflected cross by Nani to set himself up for a brilliant bicycle kick that went off his shin rather than the foot.
In a matter of seconds, Old Trafford erupted. Rooney ran towards the corner flag and stood, looked up at the sky with his eyes closed and arms out wide, soaking it all in as his teammates ran towards him. He secured a win for the Red Devils in the most emphatic manner.
The occasion, the unbelievable skill, and the sheer heart to try something so ridiculous is exactly what makes football so amazing. Hence, this goes down as one of the “good” moments in football history.
Zidane’s headbutt in 2006 FIFA World Cup Final
Every football fan knows about this incident. It was a headbutt that no one will ever forget. France’s captain (and best player), Zidane, was sent off for headbutting Italian Marco Materazzi. France played Italy in the 2006 FIFA World Cup final in Berlin, Germany and things did not pan out the way the French wanted.
Materazzi got into Zizou’s head by passing lewd personal comments and that eventually took its toll as the Frenchman headbutted him to see red. Eventually, Italy went on to win the cup on penalties. Zidane’s anger and frustration got the better of him and it may have been a major factor in France failing to win the cup that year.
No matter how you look at it, although Zidane is human, this was not the first time he was sent off for losing his cool and headbutting a player. He had done it in the UEFA Champions League in 2000 when he was with Juventus as well so he has to be held responsible for letting emotions get the better of him, which ultimately cost the nation the World Cup.
Suarez’s intentional handball against Ghana in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Quarterfinal
Football has never been known as a gentleman’s game or where the “spirit of the game” is required to be upheld. It is a “win at all costs” type of sport. Even if you hate it for that, it is how it goes. Luis Suarez did just that back in the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
Uruguay played Ghana in the quarterfinals and the score was 1-1 after regulation time. In literally the last minute of extra time, the Ghanaians were on the verge of scoring when Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez, used both his arms to parry the ball to stop it from crossing the line when defending to keep the scores level.
He received a red card for the intentional handball, which meant that Ghana had to score from a penalty. Unfortunately, Asamoah Gyan hit the crossbar and missed. This led to the game going into a penalty shootout and Ghana ended up getting knocked out by losing 4-2 in the shootout.
As dirty as people may call it, Suarez put the team first (unlike Zidane) and sacrificed himself for his nation to have a chance of progressing in the tournament. It may be immoral, but it is within the rules of the game. He took the red card and Ghana were awarded the penalty, so justice was served as per the football law.
The Ghanaians may never forgive Suarez for what he did but the Uruguayan did everything within his control to give his nation the best chance of winning. It may be a bad moment in football, but he is not the first one to do something underhanded for his team to succeed.
Roy Keane practically ends Alf-Inge Haaland’s career
Roy Keane may not be the first player to intentionally try to hurt someone (and succeed) in football. But this was atrocious and uncalled for. Keane was known to be an angry man. He had a short temper and was overly aggressive. It was terrifying really.
Alf-Inge Haaland who is the father of young Norweigan star Erling-Braut Haaland had a short-lived career playing for Norwich City, Leeds United and Manchester City. It all dates to 1997 when Haaland was with Leeds. They were playing Roy Keane’s Manchester United at Elland Road in September when Keane was struggling with a hangover and unable to keep up with Haaland. Keane mentioned in his autobiography that he was being wound up by the Norweigan at the start of the game itself.
Keane tried to trip Haaland towards to the end of the game but ended up tearing the ligament in his left leg and Haaland along with teammate David Wetherall were yelling at the Irishman saying that he dived, and was faking an injury. “Keano” as he was famously known, held grudges.
Little did Haaland know that four years since the incident that Keane would do something unimaginable. With just four minutes remaining in the Manchester derby in April 2001 at Old Trafford, Roy Keane went hard, studs-up straight into the knee of the Norweigan when the ball arrived at his feet. Keane was sent off but before leaving the pitch, the Irishman as cold as ever looked at Haaland and said, “Don’t ever stand over me again sneering about fake injuries. And tell your pal Wetherall there’s some for him as well.”
Haaland never played a full game after that incident. The foul by Keane pretty much brought an end to his career as he retired from football in 2003. Just a terrible moment in football.
Diego Maradona’s “Hand of God”
This is one of the ugliest incidents in football history. It is not the deed that makes it ugly but what was said by the doer that makes it terrible. The sheer audacity of a man to stand up and be proud of naming this moment in history is what made many people angry especially, the English.
The late Diego Maradona played handball instead of football as he put the ball past England goalkeeper Peter Shilton. Maradona leapt and as Shilton was getting to the ball to punch it, Maradona used his left fist to punch the ball into the net. The game was 0-0 up till that point. The England players were furious, but the linesman and referee missed it and the goal stood.
England ended up losing the game 2-1 and were knocked out in the quarterfinals of the FIFA World Cup in 1986. Again, Maradona did what he had to for helping his country and team win. He was not caught by the referees so that is not his problem.
What made it ugly was that the Argentinian called it the “Hand of God” and that is what was upsetting. The English may never forgive him for this incident and certainly, a lot of sports fans would never do so either.
However, the fact remains that that goal was instrumental in Argentina winning the World Cup and he will always be remembered as a hero back home. Such is the game of football. Rest in peace, “Don” Diego! One cannot forget his incredible contribution to Napoli and Argentina that made him one of the greatest (if not THE greatest), to ever play the beautiful game.