Cliché of the week: ‘If Messi had scored that’

Matt Roller says that great goals are even more special when scored by average players

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The 55th minute of a Euro 2016 quarter-final was the greatest moment of Hal Robson-Kanu’s footballing career. With his back to goal, he was played in by Aaron Ramsey down the right, beat two Belgian defenders with an outrageous Cruyff turn, and finished gracefully past the onrushing Thibaut Courtois.

“If Messi had scored that,” exclaimed an excited Robbie Savage on the BBC, “they’d be talking about it for years!”

Except, of course, they wouldn’t.

Perhaps the most memorable aspect of Robson-Kanu’s goal was the fact that it was Robson-Kanu’s goal. Here was a nomadic striker, recently released by Reading, playing in a knockout game at a major tournament and making players of twice his stature look foolish.

Indeed, given the number of fantastic goals that Messi scores, the Argentine’s goal often get less attention than those of other players.

His goal against Celta Vigo last month, for example, was close to footballing perfection: he picked the ball up forty yards from goal, dribbled through the midfield as though they weren’t there, and finished from twenty yards.

But scoring that sort of goal is as much what Messi does as it is what the likes of Robson-Kanu’s don’t do. Savage ought to realise that average players scoring great goals is what makes them memorable.