Classic Final Goals

“That pass was terrible”

Zinédine Zidane’s winning effort for Real Madrid in 2002 is considered one of the best ever goals in a Champions League final. But the cross that set it up? Don’t get Roberto Carlos started

INTERVIEW Caroline de Moraes

“I’m not talking about the goal, I can talk about the pass.” It may be the most famous strike in club football’s most famous competition but, for the man who set it up, there are more important matters to discuss.

It was 18 years ago, on 15 May 2002, that Zinédine Zidane swung his left foot at a dropping ball and struck it so sweetly that it has been the measure of greatness ever since. A thing of beauty in its own right, it was also Real Madrid’s winner in their 2-1 victory against Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Hampden Park. That Zidane had to wait so long for the ball to drop before making his mark on history was all part of Roberto Carlos’s masterplan. Well, sort of.

“People say, ‘That was a terrible pass.’ I say, ‘Terrible?’ It was perfect, on the spot, just high enough, and it landed on Zizou’s left foot because he wouldn’t be able to strike it with his right. He scored a beautiful goal but if it wasn’t for that pass, if the pass hadn’t been so perfect …”

A pause to reflect, then the Brazilian comes clean. "That pass was terrible. It was my only chance because there was a Leverkusen player following me, so if I’d controlled the ball, he’d have nicked it off me. The ball came bouncing and I crossed it. I didn’t even know Zizou was there, the only thing I did was look to the right and I saw someone in white was coming.


“There is no other way. You are looking at the ball so you can’t see well because if you turn, the opponent takes the ball. So I ran, I saw someone was coming so I made the pass right to the middle of the goal area – and one of the best players in the world was right there. It was an interesting goal because [Santiago Solari’s] pass [to me] was bad; the cross was more or less bad and yet Zizou’s goal was recently chosen by France Football as the most beautiful goal in a Champions League final.”

Raúl González had opened the scoring in the eighth minute, sent clear by a long throw from Roberto Carlos, only for Lúcio to level for Leverkusen five minutes later. That Zidane’s 45th-minute strike proved to be the winner was thanks in large part to substitute Iker Casillas. The 20-year-old goalkeeper came on for the injured César after 68 minutes and defied both Yıldıray Baştürk and Dimitar Berbabtov, twice, with brilliant stops as the German side pushed for the equalising goal. 

Casillas, a Champions League winner with Madrid against Valencia two years previously, had lost his place in the run up to this final, but Roberto Carlos never questioned his ability.

Roberto Carlos in relaxed mood on the eve of the final (above) and with the trophy (top)


“People doubted Iker a lot because of his height,” he says. “I practically saw him grow up at Real Madrid. We grew up together at Real Madrid. He was a great kid. He doesn’t spend any money; we’d pick on him because of that.

“He was our boy in the team. We really took care of him and we supported him when he didn’t make it into the team. We told him to keep training. And in this final, I think he was the best player. He’s a fantastic guy. He jokes with everybody, tells stories.

I remember once I joked with him, ‘Iker, now that you are in the national team, let me show you a photo.’ Then I got a photo of me holding the World Cup. I said, ‘Do you know how much this weighs?’ And he said to me, ‘I’m sure one day I’ll tell you exactly how much.’ And he did, didn’t he? He called me from the dressing room [after Spain’s 2010 triumph] and said, ‘Roberto, now I know how much it weighs.’

“That’s because he’s a real pain in the neck. He kept that thing in his mind. ‘You picked on me about it. Now I know how much the World Cup weighs, right? Bye, see you later, now I have to celebrate.’ And he went.”

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.

“I’m not talking about the goal, I can talk about the pass.” It may be the most famous strike in club football’s most famous competition but, for the man who set it up, there are more important matters to discuss.

It was 18 years ago, on 15 May 2002, that Zinédine Zidane swung his left foot at a dropping ball and struck it so sweetly that it has been the measure of greatness ever since. A thing of beauty in its own right, it was also Real Madrid’s winner in their 2-1 victory against Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Hampden Park. That Zidane had to wait so long for the ball to drop before making his mark on history was all part of Roberto Carlos’s masterplan. Well, sort of.

“People say, ‘That was a terrible pass.’ I say, ‘Terrible?’ It was perfect, on the spot, just high enough, and it landed on Zizou’s left foot because he wouldn’t be able to strike it with his right. He scored a beautiful goal but if it wasn’t for that pass, if the pass hadn’t been so perfect …”

A pause to reflect, then the Brazilian comes clean. "That pass was terrible. It was my only chance because there was a Leverkusen player following me, so if I’d controlled the ball, he’d have nicked it off me. The ball came bouncing and I crossed it. I didn’t even know Zizou was there, the only thing I did was look to the right and I saw someone in white was coming.


“There is no other way. You are looking at the ball so you can’t see well because if you turn, the opponent takes the ball. So I ran, I saw someone was coming so I made the pass right to the middle of the goal area – and one of the best players in the world was right there. It was an interesting goal because [Santiago Solari’s] pass [to me] was bad; the cross was more or less bad and yet Zizou’s goal was recently chosen by France Football as the most beautiful goal in a Champions League final.”

Raúl González had opened the scoring in the eighth minute, sent clear by a long throw from Roberto Carlos, only for Lúcio to level for Leverkusen five minutes later. That Zidane’s 45th-minute strike proved to be the winner was thanks in large part to substitute Iker Casillas. The 20-year-old goalkeeper came on for the injured César after 68 minutes and defied both Yıldıray Baştürk and Dimitar Berbabtov, twice, with brilliant stops as the German side pushed for the equalising goal. 

Casillas, a Champions League winner with Madrid against Valencia two years previously, had lost his place in the run up to this final, but Roberto Carlos never questioned his ability.

Roberto Carlos in relaxed mood on the eve of the final (above) and with the trophy (top)


“People doubted Iker a lot because of his height,” he says. “I practically saw him grow up at Real Madrid. We grew up together at Real Madrid. He was a great kid. He doesn’t spend any money; we’d pick on him because of that.

“He was our boy in the team. We really took care of him and we supported him when he didn’t make it into the team. We told him to keep training. And in this final, I think he was the best player. He’s a fantastic guy. He jokes with everybody, tells stories.

I remember once I joked with him, ‘Iker, now that you are in the national team, let me show you a photo.’ Then I got a photo of me holding the World Cup. I said, ‘Do you know how much this weighs?’ And he said to me, ‘I’m sure one day I’ll tell you exactly how much.’ And he did, didn’t he? He called me from the dressing room [after Spain’s 2010 triumph] and said, ‘Roberto, now I know how much it weighs.’

“That’s because he’s a real pain in the neck. He kept that thing in his mind. ‘You picked on me about it. Now I know how much the World Cup weighs, right? Bye, see you later, now I have to celebrate.’ And he went.”

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!

“I’m not talking about the goal, I can talk about the pass.” It may be the most famous strike in club football’s most famous competition but, for the man who set it up, there are more important matters to discuss.

It was 18 years ago, on 15 May 2002, that Zinédine Zidane swung his left foot at a dropping ball and struck it so sweetly that it has been the measure of greatness ever since. A thing of beauty in its own right, it was also Real Madrid’s winner in their 2-1 victory against Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Hampden Park. That Zidane had to wait so long for the ball to drop before making his mark on history was all part of Roberto Carlos’s masterplan. Well, sort of.

“People say, ‘That was a terrible pass.’ I say, ‘Terrible?’ It was perfect, on the spot, just high enough, and it landed on Zizou’s left foot because he wouldn’t be able to strike it with his right. He scored a beautiful goal but if it wasn’t for that pass, if the pass hadn’t been so perfect …”

A pause to reflect, then the Brazilian comes clean. "That pass was terrible. It was my only chance because there was a Leverkusen player following me, so if I’d controlled the ball, he’d have nicked it off me. The ball came bouncing and I crossed it. I didn’t even know Zizou was there, the only thing I did was look to the right and I saw someone in white was coming.


“There is no other way. You are looking at the ball so you can’t see well because if you turn, the opponent takes the ball. So I ran, I saw someone was coming so I made the pass right to the middle of the goal area – and one of the best players in the world was right there. It was an interesting goal because [Santiago Solari’s] pass [to me] was bad; the cross was more or less bad and yet Zizou’s goal was recently chosen by France Football as the most beautiful goal in a Champions League final.”

Raúl González had opened the scoring in the eighth minute, sent clear by a long throw from Roberto Carlos, only for Lúcio to level for Leverkusen five minutes later. That Zidane’s 45th-minute strike proved to be the winner was thanks in large part to substitute Iker Casillas. The 20-year-old goalkeeper came on for the injured César after 68 minutes and defied both Yıldıray Baştürk and Dimitar Berbabtov, twice, with brilliant stops as the German side pushed for the equalising goal. 

Casillas, a Champions League winner with Madrid against Valencia two years previously, had lost his place in the run up to this final, but Roberto Carlos never questioned his ability.

Roberto Carlos in relaxed mood on the eve of the final (above) and with the trophy (top)


“People doubted Iker a lot because of his height,” he says. “I practically saw him grow up at Real Madrid. We grew up together at Real Madrid. He was a great kid. He doesn’t spend any money; we’d pick on him because of that.

“He was our boy in the team. We really took care of him and we supported him when he didn’t make it into the team. We told him to keep training. And in this final, I think he was the best player. He’s a fantastic guy. He jokes with everybody, tells stories.

I remember once I joked with him, ‘Iker, now that you are in the national team, let me show you a photo.’ Then I got a photo of me holding the World Cup. I said, ‘Do you know how much this weighs?’ And he said to me, ‘I’m sure one day I’ll tell you exactly how much.’ And he did, didn’t he? He called me from the dressing room [after Spain’s 2010 triumph] and said, ‘Roberto, now I know how much it weighs.’

“That’s because he’s a real pain in the neck. He kept that thing in his mind. ‘You picked on me about it. Now I know how much the World Cup weighs, right? Bye, see you later, now I have to celebrate.’ And he went.”

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.

Classic Final Goals

“That pass was terrible”

Zinédine Zidane’s winning effort for Real Madrid in 2002 is considered one of the best ever goals in a Champions League final. But the cross that set it up? Don’t get Roberto Carlos started

INTERVIEW Caroline de Moraes

“I’m not talking about the goal, I can talk about the pass.” It may be the most famous strike in club football’s most famous competition but, for the man who set it up, there are more important matters to discuss.

It was 18 years ago, on 15 May 2002, that Zinédine Zidane swung his left foot at a dropping ball and struck it so sweetly that it has been the measure of greatness ever since. A thing of beauty in its own right, it was also Real Madrid’s winner in their 2-1 victory against Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Hampden Park. That Zidane had to wait so long for the ball to drop before making his mark on history was all part of Roberto Carlos’s masterplan. Well, sort of.

“People say, ‘That was a terrible pass.’ I say, ‘Terrible?’ It was perfect, on the spot, just high enough, and it landed on Zizou’s left foot because he wouldn’t be able to strike it with his right. He scored a beautiful goal but if it wasn’t for that pass, if the pass hadn’t been so perfect …”

A pause to reflect, then the Brazilian comes clean. "That pass was terrible. It was my only chance because there was a Leverkusen player following me, so if I’d controlled the ball, he’d have nicked it off me. The ball came bouncing and I crossed it. I didn’t even know Zizou was there, the only thing I did was look to the right and I saw someone in white was coming.


“There is no other way. You are looking at the ball so you can’t see well because if you turn, the opponent takes the ball. So I ran, I saw someone was coming so I made the pass right to the middle of the goal area – and one of the best players in the world was right there. It was an interesting goal because [Santiago Solari’s] pass [to me] was bad; the cross was more or less bad and yet Zizou’s goal was recently chosen by France Football as the most beautiful goal in a Champions League final.”

Raúl González had opened the scoring in the eighth minute, sent clear by a long throw from Roberto Carlos, only for Lúcio to level for Leverkusen five minutes later. That Zidane’s 45th-minute strike proved to be the winner was thanks in large part to substitute Iker Casillas. The 20-year-old goalkeeper came on for the injured César after 68 minutes and defied both Yıldıray Baştürk and Dimitar Berbabtov, twice, with brilliant stops as the German side pushed for the equalising goal. 

Casillas, a Champions League winner with Madrid against Valencia two years previously, had lost his place in the run up to this final, but Roberto Carlos never questioned his ability.

Roberto Carlos in relaxed mood on the eve of the final (above) and with the trophy (top)


“People doubted Iker a lot because of his height,” he says. “I practically saw him grow up at Real Madrid. We grew up together at Real Madrid. He was a great kid. He doesn’t spend any money; we’d pick on him because of that.

“He was our boy in the team. We really took care of him and we supported him when he didn’t make it into the team. We told him to keep training. And in this final, I think he was the best player. He’s a fantastic guy. He jokes with everybody, tells stories.

I remember once I joked with him, ‘Iker, now that you are in the national team, let me show you a photo.’ Then I got a photo of me holding the World Cup. I said, ‘Do you know how much this weighs?’ And he said to me, ‘I’m sure one day I’ll tell you exactly how much.’ And he did, didn’t he? He called me from the dressing room [after Spain’s 2010 triumph] and said, ‘Roberto, now I know how much it weighs.’

“That’s because he’s a real pain in the neck. He kept that thing in his mind. ‘You picked on me about it. Now I know how much the World Cup weighs, right? Bye, see you later, now I have to celebrate.’ And he went.”

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.

“I’m not talking about the goal, I can talk about the pass.” It may be the most famous strike in club football’s most famous competition but, for the man who set it up, there are more important matters to discuss.

It was 18 years ago, on 15 May 2002, that Zinédine Zidane swung his left foot at a dropping ball and struck it so sweetly that it has been the measure of greatness ever since. A thing of beauty in its own right, it was also Real Madrid’s winner in their 2-1 victory against Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Hampden Park. That Zidane had to wait so long for the ball to drop before making his mark on history was all part of Roberto Carlos’s masterplan. Well, sort of.

“People say, ‘That was a terrible pass.’ I say, ‘Terrible?’ It was perfect, on the spot, just high enough, and it landed on Zizou’s left foot because he wouldn’t be able to strike it with his right. He scored a beautiful goal but if it wasn’t for that pass, if the pass hadn’t been so perfect …”

A pause to reflect, then the Brazilian comes clean. "That pass was terrible. It was my only chance because there was a Leverkusen player following me, so if I’d controlled the ball, he’d have nicked it off me. The ball came bouncing and I crossed it. I didn’t even know Zizou was there, the only thing I did was look to the right and I saw someone in white was coming.


“There is no other way. You are looking at the ball so you can’t see well because if you turn, the opponent takes the ball. So I ran, I saw someone was coming so I made the pass right to the middle of the goal area – and one of the best players in the world was right there. It was an interesting goal because [Santiago Solari’s] pass [to me] was bad; the cross was more or less bad and yet Zizou’s goal was recently chosen by France Football as the most beautiful goal in a Champions League final.”

Raúl González had opened the scoring in the eighth minute, sent clear by a long throw from Roberto Carlos, only for Lúcio to level for Leverkusen five minutes later. That Zidane’s 45th-minute strike proved to be the winner was thanks in large part to substitute Iker Casillas. The 20-year-old goalkeeper came on for the injured César after 68 minutes and defied both Yıldıray Baştürk and Dimitar Berbabtov, twice, with brilliant stops as the German side pushed for the equalising goal. 

Casillas, a Champions League winner with Madrid against Valencia two years previously, had lost his place in the run up to this final, but Roberto Carlos never questioned his ability.

Roberto Carlos in relaxed mood on the eve of the final (above) and with the trophy (top)


“People doubted Iker a lot because of his height,” he says. “I practically saw him grow up at Real Madrid. We grew up together at Real Madrid. He was a great kid. He doesn’t spend any money; we’d pick on him because of that.

“He was our boy in the team. We really took care of him and we supported him when he didn’t make it into the team. We told him to keep training. And in this final, I think he was the best player. He’s a fantastic guy. He jokes with everybody, tells stories.

I remember once I joked with him, ‘Iker, now that you are in the national team, let me show you a photo.’ Then I got a photo of me holding the World Cup. I said, ‘Do you know how much this weighs?’ And he said to me, ‘I’m sure one day I’ll tell you exactly how much.’ And he did, didn’t he? He called me from the dressing room [after Spain’s 2010 triumph] and said, ‘Roberto, now I know how much it weighs.’

“That’s because he’s a real pain in the neck. He kept that thing in his mind. ‘You picked on me about it. Now I know how much the World Cup weighs, right? Bye, see you later, now I have to celebrate.’ And he went.”

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!

“I’m not talking about the goal, I can talk about the pass.” It may be the most famous strike in club football’s most famous competition but, for the man who set it up, there are more important matters to discuss.

It was 18 years ago, on 15 May 2002, that Zinédine Zidane swung his left foot at a dropping ball and struck it so sweetly that it has been the measure of greatness ever since. A thing of beauty in its own right, it was also Real Madrid’s winner in their 2-1 victory against Bayer 04 Leverkusen at Hampden Park. That Zidane had to wait so long for the ball to drop before making his mark on history was all part of Roberto Carlos’s masterplan. Well, sort of.

“People say, ‘That was a terrible pass.’ I say, ‘Terrible?’ It was perfect, on the spot, just high enough, and it landed on Zizou’s left foot because he wouldn’t be able to strike it with his right. He scored a beautiful goal but if it wasn’t for that pass, if the pass hadn’t been so perfect …”

A pause to reflect, then the Brazilian comes clean. "That pass was terrible. It was my only chance because there was a Leverkusen player following me, so if I’d controlled the ball, he’d have nicked it off me. The ball came bouncing and I crossed it. I didn’t even know Zizou was there, the only thing I did was look to the right and I saw someone in white was coming.


“There is no other way. You are looking at the ball so you can’t see well because if you turn, the opponent takes the ball. So I ran, I saw someone was coming so I made the pass right to the middle of the goal area – and one of the best players in the world was right there. It was an interesting goal because [Santiago Solari’s] pass [to me] was bad; the cross was more or less bad and yet Zizou’s goal was recently chosen by France Football as the most beautiful goal in a Champions League final.”

Raúl González had opened the scoring in the eighth minute, sent clear by a long throw from Roberto Carlos, only for Lúcio to level for Leverkusen five minutes later. That Zidane’s 45th-minute strike proved to be the winner was thanks in large part to substitute Iker Casillas. The 20-year-old goalkeeper came on for the injured César after 68 minutes and defied both Yıldıray Baştürk and Dimitar Berbabtov, twice, with brilliant stops as the German side pushed for the equalising goal. 

Casillas, a Champions League winner with Madrid against Valencia two years previously, had lost his place in the run up to this final, but Roberto Carlos never questioned his ability.

Roberto Carlos in relaxed mood on the eve of the final (above) and with the trophy (top)


“People doubted Iker a lot because of his height,” he says. “I practically saw him grow up at Real Madrid. We grew up together at Real Madrid. He was a great kid. He doesn’t spend any money; we’d pick on him because of that.

“He was our boy in the team. We really took care of him and we supported him when he didn’t make it into the team. We told him to keep training. And in this final, I think he was the best player. He’s a fantastic guy. He jokes with everybody, tells stories.

I remember once I joked with him, ‘Iker, now that you are in the national team, let me show you a photo.’ Then I got a photo of me holding the World Cup. I said, ‘Do you know how much this weighs?’ And he said to me, ‘I’m sure one day I’ll tell you exactly how much.’ And he did, didn’t he? He called me from the dressing room [after Spain’s 2010 triumph] and said, ‘Roberto, now I know how much it weighs.’

“That’s because he’s a real pain in the neck. He kept that thing in his mind. ‘You picked on me about it. Now I know how much the World Cup weighs, right? Bye, see you later, now I have to celebrate.’ And he went.”

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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