It was Roberto Carlos’ birthday, which means your entire Twitter timeline for the last day or two have probably been sharing clips of his banana-kick goal against France, as is tradition.
However, by obsessing about the Brazilian’s strike in Le Tournoi, we ignore his other moments of attacking brilliance.
The free-kick against China at the 2002 World Cup, for example, or his entry in an underrated category: goals from extremely tight angles.
We’ve picked out five of the best, beginning with Roberto himself…
Roberto Carlos (Real Madrid v Tenerife)
Was it meant to be a cross? The sheepishness with which Roberto Carlos reacts suggests that yes, perhaps it was. However, if it was a cross, it was a terrible one. Who hits the ball at that pace and with that trajectory if they’re trying to find a team-mate? Somewhere, even if only subconsciously, we reckon he knew the shot was on. Even if the Tenerife keeper had got in the way, the ball would have cut straight through his body and left him as nothing more than a pile of dust in the goalmouth.
Maicon (Brazil v North Korea)
During the 2010 World Cup, North Korea surprisingly kept Brazil at bay for more than 50 minutes. They did the basics right, cutting off obvious routes to goal, and that was enough to keep the score at 0-0. Unable to find a sensible way through, Maicon opted for a stupid one, drawing the keeper off his line in anticipation of a cross and then just leathering the ball in from basically on the by-line.
The best thing the right-back has done aside from revealing he was named after Michael Douglas. No, we’re not making that up. Even the build-up was great, from Felipe Melo’s sprayed ball out wide to Elano’s perfectly-timed pass for the overlapping full-back, but the finish is what makes it.
Frank Lampard (Chelsea v Barcelona)
A horrible first touch, sure, but we’re prepared to overlook that part. To even think about shooting from that angle is ridiculous, but to do so in this manner, chipping Victor Valdés while off balance, at an angle and with the Barça stopper basically on his goal-line? We’re tempted to overrule this one on the grounds that it was so stupid to even try is and no one should be rewarded for such stupidity, but then we watched it again and couldn’t stay angry.
Peter Ankersen (Esbjerg v Aarhus)
Ankersen makes the list for following the golden rule of playground football. When the ball sits up so invitingly, it doesn’t matter where you are on the pitch – you simply have to shoot with your next touch. It doesn’t matter if you have options for a pass. It doesn’t matter if you have time to take a touch. It doesn’t matter if the angle is, for want of a better word, preposterous. You shoot, because you know it will look fantastic if you do so.
And the Danish midfielder was absolutely right to trust his instincts. Ankersen’s goal missed out on the top three in the Puskas Award voting, but when the winner that year was Zlatan Ibrahimović’s 35-yard overhead kick against England, we’re prepared to let that slide.
Jeremy Menez (AC Milan v Roma)
It doesn’t matter that this goal was disallowed, with the offside flag going up a few seconds before Menez rounded Morgan de Sanctis and found the net. In fact, the finish was so ridiculous we think the referee should have overruled his assistant and awarded the goal on the grounds that it would be an affront to art to disallow it. We could watch this forever.