The GoatyGav Column

I’ve had the idea in my head to write this article for quite some time. The current global situation, added to the fact that I’m officially on a week and a day’s holiday, have meant that the time to put it together and post has been in abundance.

Before a ball was kicked this Premier League season the West Ham squad got together and trained, in Switzerland, along with some of the new signings. One triple training session, or I should say one particular aspect of one of the triple training sessions, grabbed my attention in particular. Rather than talk through it I thought I’d share the youtube footage of the moment with you instead: -

There’s something very cultured about the use of the outside of the boot. I liked to try and attempt to use it myself when I played, at school and in Sunday League, as I felt the ball could be ‘guided’ in to the path of team-mates making runs and, often, away from defenders at the same time – handing the advantage to the recipient of the pass. This method to finding angles on the pitch is one that I used to coach the kids I used to manage. Earlier this season Dan put a video on his pre-match article for the Sheffield United game which featured footage of the late, great Bobby Moore making one such pass : -

One of my favourite players in world football, Isco, bends the ball with the outside of the boot beautifully in the following video. The touch and finish from Benzema is pretty decent too. If it were only with the outside of the boot as well : -

There are several other advantages to the use of the outside of the foot. Not all are for sublime passes. Striking a shot with that area of the boot can generate more curve on the ball. Those who’ve seen it couldn’t possibly forget Roberto Carlos’ outrageous free kick from thirty-five yards against France in 1997. To this day scientists are still impressed by the amount of bend that Carlos generated and, specifically, physicists believe that the feat will never again be repeated. Often referred to as “The Impossible Kick,” the aerodynamics of the strike have been studied at great length. When you look at Fabien Barthez he’s completely rooted to the spot as he doesn’t believe it could hit the target in a month of Sundays however the shot clips the inside of the post on it’s way to the back of the net: -

The amount of curve that Carlos managed to generate with that free kick, and the subsequent rippling of the back of the net, is right up there with some of the greatest goals of all time however it certainly wasn’t the first. The following footage of a goal scored by Eder for Gremio, against fierce rivals, Internacional, in a Campeonato Gaucho match in November 1978, shows, what appears to be a similar amount of, outside of the boot, curve but with the ball hitting the underside of the bar to the keeper’s right. In this instance the curve takes the ball away from the keeper, rather than around the wall and back inside the post like in the Carlos example, which is another benefit of the swerve that can be generated in this manner : -

Eder’s goal for Gremio was a bomb, from distance, that contained a similar length of run up to Carlos’. In fact his run was so long that the cameraman had to move from right to left just to keep up with the entire shot. Could the distance of the run up have anything to do with the amount of turn achieved? Perhaps one for the scientists to consider.

Another form of the pass, the cross, is also skill where exponents of users of the smaller toes have shown their creativity. Not, generally, known for his cultured feet Romelu Lukaku hits an absolute beaut of a centre, for Inter, with his left peg in the following video. At first viewing the finish looks like it might have come from the same area of the foot but, on closer inspection, Lautaro Martinez’s volley is hit with the laces – and to great effect : -

Despite the phrase originating with spin bowlers in cricket there have also been football players who have “made the ball talk,” down the years. So many of those “visions spectacular,” have come from the outside of the boot of those richly talented legends of the game. For me it’s the moments of sublime skill, or artistry if, like me, you prefer, that invoke the admiration and pure love of the game more than anything else. Once we return to watching live football I hope to witness many more of these magical moments of footballing history. With any luck the majority coming from our heroes in Claret and Blue.

Meantime keep safe, be kind to, and look after one another.