March 23, 2016
Zinedine Zidane was one of the greatest players of his generation, and very possibly of all-time. He has an impressive list of accomplishments including the World Cup, the European Championship, the Champions League and more. During his distinguished career, many moments stood out in the history of the beautiful game. He almost single handedly carried the French national team to defeat Brazil during the 1998 World Cup Final; scoring two crucial goals during the first half. Two years later, he helped lead the French national team again to a win over Italy in the 2000 European Championship final. Yet again, two years later, he would score one of the most memorable goals the world has ever seen.
There is no doubt that entering into the 2002 Champions League Final, Real Madrid F.C., led by Zidane and many other future legends, were considered the clear favourite over Bayer Leverkusen and their star player Michael Ballack.
The match would start exactly as expected with Real Madrid taking a 1-0 lead via a Raul goal. However, and to the surprise of many, Leverkusen would come back with the tying goal only five minutes later. There's a general feeling of surprise as no one expected Leverkusen to be able to withstand the onslaught of Real Madrid's attack. But not only has Leverkusen withstood it, but they started controlling some aspects of the game and millions of fans around the world collectively held their breath. The stakes couldn't get higher.
Roberto Carlos, known for being one of the most explosive players in the world with the ability to start runs on the wing that would leave his opponents trailing in his tracks, calmly carries the ball towards the Leverkusen half. He passes the ball to his teammate Santiago Solari and immediately turns on his engines. "The Bullet Man" as he was known sprints down the left side of the pitch and his marker has almost zero chance to catch him. Solari lobs the ball forward well into the last third of the pitch. For most players, the pass might have been somewhat far, for Roberto Carlos however, the ball was well within reach. He curves the ball towards the edge of the penalty box.
Game. Set. Match.
"I don't know if we are the best team in the world. I am lucky to be playing alongside some of the best players around. It's a dream." - Zinedine Zidane, describing Real Madrid.
For Zinedine Zidane, it will always be a mystery to know what he was thinking at that moment. He is after all a right-footed player. The ball was going to land to his left and he wouldn't have enough time to readjust. Nevertheless, great players are the ones who take nothing and turn it into something. Zidane turns towards the goal and launches an unstoppable rocket into the upper left corner of the goal. Leverkusen's goalkeeper is victimized by one of the best goals the world has ever seen.
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