Football never ceases to surprise. In the week that the self-proclaimed ‘one of the best strikers in the world’, Nicklas Bendtner nonchalantly scored with the outside of his foot, football fans everywhere had their mind blown further by the fact that Spurs defender Kyle Walker’s replacement right-back was no other than, Kyle Walker. Well, Kyle Walker-Peters but still, plenty close enough. Not only that, he landed the man of the match award on his premier league debut and no doubt have the now Wembley faithful chanting ‘There’s only 2 Kyle Walkers’.
Sometimes things happen in football that even as a fictional story would sound a bit on the absurd side. There’s no more perfect example than Leicester City winning the Premier League of course but the Kyle Walker II revelation got me thinking about other rather eerily strange recurring events or situations. I am sure there are plenty like this but below are a few I thought about.
Messi and Maradona Goals
We’ll never see another goal like that they said when marvelling about Maradona’s second goal against England in the ’86 World cup. Well we did and not only that it was scored by a player of the same nationality and stature who has gone on to be just as much as a footballing superstar as his predecessor. Ok, the Messi goal wasn’t scored on anything like the same stage but he has also scored a goal with the ‘hand of god‘ too. Had Maradona not still been alive I’m sure there’d have been claims of reincarnation.
Zola and Mancini Backheel Vollies
Not completely identical but 2 backheel volleyed goals assisted by a corner and scored by Italians with long hair is pretty strange. Zola was already in England when Mancini produced his moment of magic and although football coverage wasn’t what it is now back then, you’d have thought Zola must have been aware of Mancini’s effort. He’d have seen it on Channel 4’s Football Italia surely. I may be wrong but I don’t think we’ve seen a goal like these scored since. At least in the upper echelons of the game.
Mkhitaryan and Giroud Scorpion Kicks
What the hell did he do there? Did he mean that? Those were my first thoughts when I saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s extremely audacious effort now known as a ‘scorpion kick’. Not completely unique thanks to Zlatan but few have even thought to even try from a cross and those that have will have looked very stupid when they inevitably missed the ball. Well you know what happens when you wait 24 premier league seasons to see a scorpion kick. Two arrive in one season. The second courtesy of Olivier Giroud of course.
Rooney 1st Everton Goals
Given Rooney’s later years at Man united, some may have thought Rooney bagging a goal was a strange occurence in itself but his return to Everton began with a goal very similar to the one that announced him to the footballing world at Goodison some 15 years earlier.
Ok, I may be clutching at straws a bit here and in my bid to complete a list of 5. Cristiano Ronaldo has been around for so long that this won’t sound at all strange but if 16 or so years ago someone predicted that a player with the same name as that of ‘O Fenômeno’ would not only grace the footballing world but surpass his achievements, I probably would have responded with ‘Yeh right.’ Still not convinced I know but I’m not surprised, even the present day version’s 50 goals seasons seem much less unusual now.
Are the above merely coincidences that are bound to present themselves or is there a more logical explanation for these happenings? The almost identical unusual goals can of course be explained by some kind of visualisation in that once something has been seen for the first time, others will not only attempt it but believe it’s possible.
The duplicate names would seem more of a coincidence but perhaps having a name of someone great inflates your own self-belief. Would Dele Alli have thought to opt for ‘Dele’ on the back of his shirt had the great Pele not existed and has it helped his game? If only my full name had been Brian Batistuta perhaps I’d have been much more prolific than I actually was in my amateur football days.
What struck me the most is just how quickly the unexpected becomes accepted as normal once it’s happened and we’ve digested it. It also made me think that the somewhat unexpected results we see that screws up our bets from time to time, pale in significance to the occurrence of some of these other things.
Swansea beating Man United on Saturday may look nigh on impossible, especially considering how the 2 teams fared in their first matches and the fact that Lukaku looks set to be the goal machine they’ve craved. But at odds of 1.37, away from home, there is almost certainly no value to be had backing the red devils. The Swans may not win but much stranger things have happened than a 10/1 shot winning at home that’s for sure.