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Simon’s Greatest Goal

If there’s one thing Americans know about Soccer, it’s that it’s a low-scoring game.  It is not uncommon for a ninety-minute game to produce a single goal.  Think that’s bad?  Plenty of games end with no goals at all (or nil-nil, as we like to say), draws being perfectly acceptable in most matches.  Consequently goals are the epitome of soccer.  And given that, we can deduce: if Simon likes soccer, Simon loves goals.

It’s been mentioned before that Simon’s favorite TV show is 500 Greatest Goals (or “500 Gratist Goles” according to his All About Me worksheet).  This week we have already watched Greatest Goals of the 2012-13 Champions League, and Greatest Goals of the 2012-13 Premier League Season is scheduled to record this afternoon.  Simon doesn’t just love goals, he has developed criteria for ranking them:

  1. The goal is struck from distance.  Outside the penalty area is almost a must, near the half-way line is sublime.
  2. The goal humiliates the goalkeeper.  Chipping over a keeper who’s come off his line or leaving him flat-footed while the ball goes in the opposite corner is acceptable.  Nutmegging the keeper or forcing an accidental own-goal is getting somewhere.  Causing the keeper to injure himself, while regrettable, is comedy gold.
  3. The goal is the result of a feat of acrobatics.  These are the best, really.  Diving headers, sideways volleys, and, the crème de la crème, bicycle kicks.

Here is a goal from last Summer that checks all three boxes:

Bicycle kicks…part of a whole series of  ridiculous soccer moves that I see kids (including Simon’s cousin Ben) endlessly practicing, but never quite pulling off — kind of like skateboarders on Bardstown Road.  Simon has been practicing the bicycle kick for the last couple of months, and I always want to tell him to stop wasting his time and work on his fundamentals.  I don’t, mind you.  I let him have his fun.  And I have to admit that, for a fairly timid child, he can fling his body over backwards with a fearlessness I could never muster.  The first time I saw his overhead foot actually connect with a ball I just about plotzed.

Well, Simon made his first honest-to-God bicycle kick goal this past Monday. It wasn’t a real game — just a bunch of us horsing around at the field hockey goals in Seneca Park — but it was incredible! Simon and I were practicing crosses while his friend Menelik, tired from running around in the heat, was taking a turn in the goal.  I lobbed a high ball into the box, assuming Simon would head it, but instead Simon ran to position himself facing outward between the goal and the ball.  I could see the light go on in his eyes and I knew he was going to go for it!  The ball took a single high bounce, Simon went over backwards with his right foot extended, and WHAM! The ball went straight over Menelik’s shoulder and into the back of the net. I was stunned.

The only unfortunate thing about this? Simon didn’t really get to see the goal itself since he was in the process of landing on his back (and, I assume, trying not to break his neck). I suppose he’ll have to wait a bit until he has 10 slow motion cameras following his moves from every angle.  And while Simon loves to see the abstract goalies of TV land humiliated by a stunner, his sweeter nature takes over when the action is closer to home.  “I didn’t tell about my bicycle kick in Sharing Time today”, he told me when he got home from school on Tuesday.  “I was afraid Menelik would be embarrassed.”  Menelik doesn’t have anything to be embarrassed about, I explained to him, but Simon certainly has something to be proud of.



One Response to “Simon’s Greatest Goal”

  1. blg says:

    Nice story, with a sweet ending.

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