I was sitting here:
|Tolworth station. Evening rush hour.|
I became aware of it on twitter. Various people were saying RVP's header was everything from “very good” to “stunning”.
A couple mentioned he’d scored from some distance out. I thought I had an idea of what it might look like.
By the time I got home it was 2-1 to Holland. By the time I got the kids down it was 4-1 to Holland. By the time Arjen Robben scored his second to make it 5-1, I was actually in front of the television, but had to wait until some time after the final whistle before I finally got to see that goal.
Good God. On first view it’s amazing. On repeated viewings it becomes clear this is one of the greatest World Cup goals of all time.
Barring something extraordinary, it will become the defining footballing image of Brazil 2014. To have the instinct, athleticism and technique to execute something like that…
First off, look at the run he makes after Blind hits the ball. A straight line 25 yard sprint which he covers in 3 seconds. Whilst doing this, he spots Casillas off his line.
Then, as the ball approaches, van Persie checks, opens up his body, and takes two positioning baby-steps, with most of his weight still moving laterally across the turf.
Now in the perfect position, van Persie jumps off the tips of his toes, meeting the ball (which is travelling away from him) before he fully leaves the ground.
RVP shapes his body to nail the upward trajectory and power. He creates sidespin with the angle off his forehead. The contact is perfect. The resultant swallow-dive as the ball loops into the top right hand corner of the Spanish net is a transcendent moment in sport.
Watching it from the aerial camera is eerie. For the briefest of moments, as the ball sails off his head, the small figure in the centre of shot appears to hang, defying gravity. Flying. Van Persie is three feet in the air, chest pushed forward, back bowed, eyes on the ball as it courses goalward. There is something about that moment which defies ordinary, mortal thinking.
This sort of thing doesn’t often happen in football, let alone to change the direction of a massively important game on the global stage against the world champions. But, on Friday, it did. And I will be boring my grandchildren about it.