Sports World Run Over By a ‘Bicycle’

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A Move Impressing the Best

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It happened in Stockholm on 11/15/12, but few Americans were watching. Just last week, one did not actually know what happened, until the “Play of the Day” popped up on Good Morning America (GMA). One of the anchors (Josh Elliot) had the “Play of the Day” come up. This time it showed a Swedish soccer player’s out-of-the-ordinary goal in a game against England.

Sweden striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic ran through the field on Thursday after scoring a shocking [Bicycle kick – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia] from 30 yards out on 11/15/12. A replay of the feat in the game itself:

For all those non-soccer players reading about a ‘bicycle’ kick, it is a kick as seen in the above sketch. It’s made while the kicker is in midair. The kicker’s head is usually closest to the ground, and facing away from the goal. Its mastery is so difficult; few soccer players even try it.

bicycle
Drawing of the several phases of a bicycle kick (rovesciata in Italian).

Phenomenal Skill

The acrobatic skill and handling of the ball generally required, has often made it nearly impossible for players to make the move in stressful situations. Only 17 players have ever scored more than once using a ‘bicycle’ kick (including Pele, Ronaldinho, David Arellano, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Billy Bremner) to name a few.

Played In Stockholm, Sweden’s 4-2 win came after Ibrahimovic’s goal in a friendly (not official) match against England. In a truly masterful performance, Ibrahimovic scored all 4 of Sweden’s goals, initially having the extremely rare “hat trick” (3 goals in one game).

Those who saw this 90th-minute goal said it was the greatest goal of the year. “Goal of the Century” was the headline plastered in the Daily Telegraph. The previous “hat trick” undoubtedly gave Ibrahimovic confidence to attempt such a recklessly bold shot. Chasing a long pass, Ibrahimovic held back when the England goalkeeper rushed to clear the ball with a header, just outside the penalty box.

He turned, and leapt high before the ball touched the ground. His back to the goal, he kicked the ball overhead, looping over the goalie and two defenders. Even shooting from the side of the field, at least 30 yards away, he put the ball in the corner of the net.

Ibrahimovic is one of the few players who could pull off such an athletic feat of this much tenacity and co-ordination. As he scored his 39th goal for Sweden, the stadium became a massive eruption of joy, as only a soccer stadium can be. Ibrahimovic brazenly whipped off his shirt in celebration.

Boundless Enthusiasm

If you’ve played American football before, and think soccer is a dull, non-scoring sport; the above scenario is anything but dull. Watch the video, and you’ll find soccer excitement is in the eye of the beholder.

For those not viewing the video, a last-minute goal has just been scored, with the announcer going absolutely apoplectic, and screaming the word ‘GOAL19 times before finishing his sentence. This Italian commentator covering the Juventus/Roma game went crazy. His voice careened up at least two octaves.

A former Chemical Engineer, Kevin Roeten enjoys riding the third rail of journalism: politics and religion. He is a Guest Columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times, and the Independent (Ohio), writes for numerous blogs, is an amateur astronomer, and delves into scientific topics.