Hands up. Roberto Carlos’ absurd 1997 free kick during the Tournoi de France is one of the more predictable choices for a column with the title this one has. The tournament was essentially a dry-run for France’s hosting of the World Cup and not very meaningful which is, in part, why I have put off including it till now. But enough is enough.
This is the sort of goal that you theorise must be possible as a kid when you first learn how to bend the ball in flight. Of course it is but most decent players will choose to work on mastering control of the arc of the flight of a ball while continuing to work on its swerve. The accomplished player understands that passing and shooting are techniques that need to be understood in three dimensions, not least for the taking of free kicks.
Roberto Carlos throws away that rulebook and what he achieves is something so wonderful it leaves Fabien Barthez, winner of that following World Cup, Euro 2000, the Champions League and Premier League, twice, standing with his hands on his hips and probably wondering if he’s in the Twilight Zone. For what it’s worth England won the tournament topping the table ahead of France, Brazil and Italy.
Midfield General (ret.)