Classic Final Goals

Where's Boli?

He’s in AC Milan’s penalty area, scoring the winning goal for Marseille in the 1993 Champions League final

WORDS Sheridan Bird | ILLUSTRATION Osvaldo Casanova

A wealth of attacking talent   adorned the pitch on that May night in Munich. Marco van Basten, Roberto Donadoni and Jean-Pierre Papin were starring for the Rossoneri; Rudi Völler, Abedi Pele and Alen Bokšić stepped out for Olympique de Marseille. If anyone was speculating pre-match where the goals would come from, they’d have been confident picking from that glittering array. But they’d have been wrong. 

Basile Boli, Marseille’s no-nonsense centre-back, was born in the Ivory Coast’s capital, Abidjan. He had moved to Paris as a teenager in 1980 and joined CA Romainville on the outskirts of the city, where his performances impressed legendary Auxerre manager Guy Roux. The masterly coach signed him in 1983 and knocked off some of the rough edges, yet Boli still played to his strengths: an uncomplicated, uncompromising man-marker who went in hard, sometimes at the limit. He stayed with Les Diplomates for seven years – until ambitious Marseille swooped in. 

There he played and trained with internationals including Carlos Mozer, Franck Sauzée and Chris Waddle (with whom he’d go on to release a 1991 pop single called We’ve Got a Feeling). Rubbing shoulders with the crème de la crème had an immeasurably positive effect on Boli: he could no longer be bracketed as just a strong man, as he gained a better understanding of the game and a heightened feel for the ball. Of course, his character, aggression and courage stayed intact and made him an instant hit at the Stade Vélodrome; they knew he would battle for 90 minutes whether it was a European final or a training match.

So Milan would have expected a challenge for their forwards in getting the better of the Marseille man, but they weren’t necessarily expecting him to punish them at the other end. Maybe they should have had an inkling: during his four seasons in the south of France he averaged a goal roughly every six games – not a bad record for a centre-back. Two seasons before he had even struck in the semi-finals against Spartak Moskva as OM reached the final for the first time.

A wealth of attacking talent   adorned the pitch on that May night in Munich. Marco van Basten, Roberto Donadoni and Jean-Pierre Papin were starring for the Rossoneri; Rudi Völler, Abedi Pele and Alen Bokšić stepped out for Olympique de Marseille. If anyone was speculating pre-match where the goals would come from, they’d have been confident picking from that glittering array. But they’d have been wrong. 

Basile Boli, Marseille’s no-nonsense centre-back, was born in the Ivory Coast’s capital, Abidjan. He had moved to Paris as a teenager in 1980 and joined CA Romainville on the outskirts of the city, where his performances impressed legendary Auxerre manager Guy Roux. The masterly coach signed him in 1983 and knocked off some of the rough edges, yet Boli still played to his strengths: an uncomplicated, uncompromising man-marker who went in hard, sometimes at the limit. He stayed with Les Diplomates for seven years – until ambitious Marseille swooped in. 

There he played and trained with internationals including Carlos Mozer, Franck Sauzée and Chris Waddle (with whom he’d go on to release a 1991 pop single called We’ve Got a Feeling). Rubbing shoulders with the crème de la crème had an immeasurably positive effect on Boli: he could no longer be bracketed as just a strong man, as he gained a better understanding of the game and a heightened feel for the ball. Of course, his character, aggression and courage stayed intact and made him an instant hit at the Stade Vélodrome; they knew he would battle for 90 minutes whether it was a European final or a training match.

So Milan would have expected a challenge for their forwards in getting the better of the Marseille man, but they weren’t necessarily expecting him to punish them at the other end. Maybe they should have had an inkling: during his four seasons in the south of France he averaged a goal roughly every six games – not a bad record for a centre-back. Two seasons before he had even struck in the semi-finals against Spartak Moskva as OM reached the final for the first time.

Read the full story
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That night in Bari had ended in dismay for the French champions, beaten on penalties by Crvena zvezda after a dour goalless draw. This time, against the champions of ’89 and ’90, Boli made his mark. His big moment came with half-time approaching at the Olympiastadion. As Marseille’s quicksilver Ghanaian winger Pele prepared to fire over a left-footed corner, a mass of bodies awaited between the near post and the penalty spot. Boli was hovering just outside that scrum of players. At the last second he ran into the action zone, powering ahead of his marker Frank Rijkaard, who was unable to react when his adversary cleverly paused and checked back slightly as the ball came across. 

German marksman Völler was the first to jump but the ball cleared his head. On another night that might have put off Boli, who was right behind him – but not this time. Despite Rijkaard having a fistful of his No4 shirt, Boli was able to leap and make a powerful connection. When the ball was coming over, keeper Sebastiano Rossi had taken three steps to his left and, with no one stationed at the back post, the far corner of the net was gaping. Boli’s mighty effort found it with unerring accuracy.

Team-mate Marcel Desailly could hardly believe his eyes. “I had a little moment, a tenth of a second, where I said to myself, ‘Is it really true?’ My eyes saw Basile score but the fact that it was against Milan meant it took a little longer for it to register in my brain and turn into joy. It took time for it to sink in, then the happiness came because we hadn’t imagined it.”

In that first season that the European Cup and the Champions League became an item, Boli’s side became the first (and still only) Ligue 1 outfit to win the continent’s top club competition. When the squad showed off the trophy to fans at the Vélodrome a few days later, Boli – a purple European Cup shaved into the back of his head – admitted he had struggled with an injury through much of the final: “My knee was killing me, I wanted to go off. I wasn’t giving my best.” Fortunately, his head was still in full working order.

A wealth of attacking talent   adorned the pitch on that May night in Munich. Marco van Basten, Roberto Donadoni and Jean-Pierre Papin were starring for the Rossoneri; Rudi Völler, Abedi Pele and Alen Bokšić stepped out for Olympique de Marseille. If anyone was speculating pre-match where the goals would come from, they’d have been confident picking from that glittering array. But they’d have been wrong. 

Basile Boli, Marseille’s no-nonsense centre-back, was born in the Ivory Coast’s capital, Abidjan. He had moved to Paris as a teenager in 1980 and joined CA Romainville on the outskirts of the city, where his performances impressed legendary Auxerre manager Guy Roux. The masterly coach signed him in 1983 and knocked off some of the rough edges, yet Boli still played to his strengths: an uncomplicated, uncompromising man-marker who went in hard, sometimes at the limit. He stayed with Les Diplomates for seven years – until ambitious Marseille swooped in. 

There he played and trained with internationals including Carlos Mozer, Franck Sauzée and Chris Waddle (with whom he’d go on to release a 1991 pop single called We’ve Got a Feeling). Rubbing shoulders with the crème de la crème had an immeasurably positive effect on Boli: he could no longer be bracketed as just a strong man, as he gained a better understanding of the game and a heightened feel for the ball. Of course, his character, aggression and courage stayed intact and made him an instant hit at the Stade Vélodrome; they knew he would battle for 90 minutes whether it was a European final or a training match.

So Milan would have expected a challenge for their forwards in getting the better of the Marseille man, but they weren’t necessarily expecting him to punish them at the other end. Maybe they should have had an inkling: during his four seasons in the south of France he averaged a goal roughly every six games – not a bad record for a centre-back. Two seasons before he had even struck in the semi-finals against Spartak Moskva as OM reached the final for the first time.

Where's Boli?
Classic Final Goals

Where's Boli?

He’s in AC Milan’s penalty area, scoring the winning goal for Marseille in the 1993 Champions League final

WORDS Sheridan Bird | ILLUSTRATION Osvaldo Casanova

A wealth of attacking talent   adorned the pitch on that May night in Munich. Marco van Basten, Roberto Donadoni and Jean-Pierre Papin were starring for the Rossoneri; Rudi Völler, Abedi Pele and Alen Bokšić stepped out for Olympique de Marseille. If anyone was speculating pre-match where the goals would come from, they’d have been confident picking from that glittering array. But they’d have been wrong. 

Basile Boli, Marseille’s no-nonsense centre-back, was born in the Ivory Coast’s capital, Abidjan. He had moved to Paris as a teenager in 1980 and joined CA Romainville on the outskirts of the city, where his performances impressed legendary Auxerre manager Guy Roux. The masterly coach signed him in 1983 and knocked off some of the rough edges, yet Boli still played to his strengths: an uncomplicated, uncompromising man-marker who went in hard, sometimes at the limit. He stayed with Les Diplomates for seven years – until ambitious Marseille swooped in. 

There he played and trained with internationals including Carlos Mozer, Franck Sauzée and Chris Waddle (with whom he’d go on to release a 1991 pop single called We’ve Got a Feeling). Rubbing shoulders with the crème de la crème had an immeasurably positive effect on Boli: he could no longer be bracketed as just a strong man, as he gained a better understanding of the game and a heightened feel for the ball. Of course, his character, aggression and courage stayed intact and made him an instant hit at the Stade Vélodrome; they knew he would battle for 90 minutes whether it was a European final or a training match.

So Milan would have expected a challenge for their forwards in getting the better of the Marseille man, but they weren’t necessarily expecting him to punish them at the other end. Maybe they should have had an inkling: during his four seasons in the south of France he averaged a goal roughly every six games – not a bad record for a centre-back. Two seasons before he had even struck in the semi-finals against Spartak Moskva as OM reached the final for the first time.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

A wealth of attacking talent   adorned the pitch on that May night in Munich. Marco van Basten, Roberto Donadoni and Jean-Pierre Papin were starring for the Rossoneri; Rudi Völler, Abedi Pele and Alen Bokšić stepped out for Olympique de Marseille. If anyone was speculating pre-match where the goals would come from, they’d have been confident picking from that glittering array. But they’d have been wrong. 

Basile Boli, Marseille’s no-nonsense centre-back, was born in the Ivory Coast’s capital, Abidjan. He had moved to Paris as a teenager in 1980 and joined CA Romainville on the outskirts of the city, where his performances impressed legendary Auxerre manager Guy Roux. The masterly coach signed him in 1983 and knocked off some of the rough edges, yet Boli still played to his strengths: an uncomplicated, uncompromising man-marker who went in hard, sometimes at the limit. He stayed with Les Diplomates for seven years – until ambitious Marseille swooped in. 

There he played and trained with internationals including Carlos Mozer, Franck Sauzée and Chris Waddle (with whom he’d go on to release a 1991 pop single called We’ve Got a Feeling). Rubbing shoulders with the crème de la crème had an immeasurably positive effect on Boli: he could no longer be bracketed as just a strong man, as he gained a better understanding of the game and a heightened feel for the ball. Of course, his character, aggression and courage stayed intact and made him an instant hit at the Stade Vélodrome; they knew he would battle for 90 minutes whether it was a European final or a training match.

So Milan would have expected a challenge for their forwards in getting the better of the Marseille man, but they weren’t necessarily expecting him to punish them at the other end. Maybe they should have had an inkling: during his four seasons in the south of France he averaged a goal roughly every six games – not a bad record for a centre-back. Two seasons before he had even struck in the semi-finals against Spartak Moskva as OM reached the final for the first time.

Read the full story
Sign up now to get access to this and every premium feature on Champions Journal. You will also get access to member-only competitions and offers. And you get all of that completely free!

That night in Bari had ended in dismay for the French champions, beaten on penalties by Crvena zvezda after a dour goalless draw. This time, against the champions of ’89 and ’90, Boli made his mark. His big moment came with half-time approaching at the Olympiastadion. As Marseille’s quicksilver Ghanaian winger Pele prepared to fire over a left-footed corner, a mass of bodies awaited between the near post and the penalty spot. Boli was hovering just outside that scrum of players. At the last second he ran into the action zone, powering ahead of his marker Frank Rijkaard, who was unable to react when his adversary cleverly paused and checked back slightly as the ball came across. 

German marksman Völler was the first to jump but the ball cleared his head. On another night that might have put off Boli, who was right behind him – but not this time. Despite Rijkaard having a fistful of his No4 shirt, Boli was able to leap and make a powerful connection. When the ball was coming over, keeper Sebastiano Rossi had taken three steps to his left and, with no one stationed at the back post, the far corner of the net was gaping. Boli’s mighty effort found it with unerring accuracy.

Team-mate Marcel Desailly could hardly believe his eyes. “I had a little moment, a tenth of a second, where I said to myself, ‘Is it really true?’ My eyes saw Basile score but the fact that it was against Milan meant it took a little longer for it to register in my brain and turn into joy. It took time for it to sink in, then the happiness came because we hadn’t imagined it.”

In that first season that the European Cup and the Champions League became an item, Boli’s side became the first (and still only) Ligue 1 outfit to win the continent’s top club competition. When the squad showed off the trophy to fans at the Vélodrome a few days later, Boli – a purple European Cup shaved into the back of his head – admitted he had struggled with an injury through much of the final: “My knee was killing me, I wanted to go off. I wasn’t giving my best.” Fortunately, his head was still in full working order.

A wealth of attacking talent   adorned the pitch on that May night in Munich. Marco van Basten, Roberto Donadoni and Jean-Pierre Papin were starring for the Rossoneri; Rudi Völler, Abedi Pele and Alen Bokšić stepped out for Olympique de Marseille. If anyone was speculating pre-match where the goals would come from, they’d have been confident picking from that glittering array. But they’d have been wrong. 

Basile Boli, Marseille’s no-nonsense centre-back, was born in the Ivory Coast’s capital, Abidjan. He had moved to Paris as a teenager in 1980 and joined CA Romainville on the outskirts of the city, where his performances impressed legendary Auxerre manager Guy Roux. The masterly coach signed him in 1983 and knocked off some of the rough edges, yet Boli still played to his strengths: an uncomplicated, uncompromising man-marker who went in hard, sometimes at the limit. He stayed with Les Diplomates for seven years – until ambitious Marseille swooped in. 

There he played and trained with internationals including Carlos Mozer, Franck Sauzée and Chris Waddle (with whom he’d go on to release a 1991 pop single called We’ve Got a Feeling). Rubbing shoulders with the crème de la crème had an immeasurably positive effect on Boli: he could no longer be bracketed as just a strong man, as he gained a better understanding of the game and a heightened feel for the ball. Of course, his character, aggression and courage stayed intact and made him an instant hit at the Stade Vélodrome; they knew he would battle for 90 minutes whether it was a European final or a training match.

So Milan would have expected a challenge for their forwards in getting the better of the Marseille man, but they weren’t necessarily expecting him to punish them at the other end. Maybe they should have had an inkling: during his four seasons in the south of France he averaged a goal roughly every six games – not a bad record for a centre-back. Two seasons before he had even struck in the semi-finals against Spartak Moskva as OM reached the final for the first time.

Penalty Pedigree

Etiam erat velit scelerisque in dictum non. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at. Scelerisque felis imperdiet proin fermentum leo. Nibh tortor id aliquet lectus proin nibh nisl. Nulla at volutpat diam ut venenatis. At urna condimentum mattis pellentesque id nibh tortor id aliquet. Leo a diam sollicitudin tempor id eu nisl nunc mi. Dui vivamus arcu felis bibendum ut. Pharetra convallis posuere morbi leo urna molestie. Adipiscing at in tellus integer feugiat scelerisque. In arcu cursus euismod quis. Dictum non consectetur a erat nam at lectus urna duis. Facilisi nullam vehicula ipsum a arcu cursus. At tempor commodo ullamcorper a lacus vestibulum sed arcu non. Ipsum dolor sit amet consectetur adipiscing elit pellentesque habitant. Vitae sapien pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus. Eget nullam non nisi est sit amet facilisis. Ipsum consequat nisl vel pretium lectus quam. Elit sed vulputate mi sit amet mauris commodo quis. Pretium fusce id velit ut tortor pretium viverra suspendisse potenti.

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