Classic Final Goals

Turning Point

Barcelona went into the 1992 European Cup final having never won the trophy and scarred by past defeats, but Ronald Koeman’s blistering free-kick changed everything

WORDS Simon Hart | ILLUSTRATION Osvaldo Casanova

A SLIDING-DOORS MOMENT. That might be one way of describing it – but for the fact that the door was not so much slid ajar as blown off its hinges.

It was the door to the future for one of Europe’s biggest football clubs. And that future began on 20 May 1992 thanks to the right foot of Ronald Koeman and a free-kick of such ferocity, precision and significance that even the man who scored it later admitted: “It gave me goose bumps.”

It was a goal that bequeathed a new sense of confidence for culés, as Barcelona followers are known. Thirty-two years since their first European Cup adventure had been cut short by a semi-final loss to Real Madrid, of all teams, Barcelona finally had their hands on the trophy that their arch-rivals had already claimed six times. As the front page of the next day’s Mundo Deportivo put it: “Ja la tenim”. Now we have it.

The ghosts of final defeats in 1961 and 1986 had been exorcised by the Dream Team. Barcelona already had prestige and history but with victory over Sampdoria that warm Wembley night, they joined the ultimate elite.

That Koeman delivered it was fitting. After the group stage victory at Dynamo Kyiv, he pledged to the press: “We’ll be at Wembley.” This confidence befitted the only Barcelona player with a European Cup winner’s medal already, earned with PSV Eindhoven in 1988 following a final shoot-out against Benfica that he opened with a successful conversion.

“barcelona HAVE WON MORE SINCE, BUT THE FIRST IS A VERY IMPORTANT MOMENT FOR EVERYBODY"
By

The Catalans called him Tintin, but there was nothing boyish about him on the field as he emerged to become an essential piece of the side built by his compatriot Johan Cruyff. The pair had a close relationship – their families would dine out together – and Koeman contributed extensively with his intelligent reading of the game, long precise passes and remarkable scoring rate for a defender. There were 106 goals during his six years at Barcelona, including 26 dead-ball strikes – a club record broken only by Lionel Messi. Yet in the final lead-up, old ghosts appeared in Catalonia. Speaking on the 25th anniversary, Koeman recalled that “people weren’t optimistic because of what happened in Seville”: that 1986 final defeat on penalties by Steaua Bucureşti. “They have won more since, but the first is a very important moment for everybody.” As a reflection of this anxiety, Barcelona fielded an extra defender, with Nando, Albert Ferrer and Juan Carlos looking after the trio of Gianluca Vialli, Roberto Mancini and Attilio Lombardo.

The untouched scoreboard at full time didn’t tell the full story: Sampdoria goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca had made a handful of sharp saves; Hristo Stoichkov struck a post for Barça when clean through; and Vialli missed twice with only Andoni Zubizarreta to beat.

For Sampdoria, there was further frustration as a result of referee Aron Schmidhuber’s decision to penalise Giovanni Invernizzi for a tangle of legs after he had fallen when challenging Eusebio Sacristán a few metres from his own box. But history does not record that it was a soft free-kick; Koeman certainly didn’t care. His most recent European goal had been a free-kick in the previous season’s European Cup Winners’ Cup final, hit from even further out against Manchester United.

As the clock ticked to 112 minutes, Schmidhuber blew his whistle. Stoichkov, his left foot on the ball, touched it to José Mari Bakero, who teed up Koeman. Pagliuca anticipated correctly but the flight of the ball was so swift and crisp that it cut through the Samp players rushing out of the wall and flashed past the keeper’s right hand like an arrow into the corner.

“Gooooooooooooooool!” cried Joaquim Maria Puyal from Catalunya Ràdio, screaming the same word a further 28 times as Koeman sprinted to the corner flag and vanished beneath a mob of orange shirts. When he re-emerged, he paused, raised his hands and covered his eyes. Goose bumps indeed.

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Classic Final Goals

Turning Point

Barcelona went into the 1992 European Cup final having never won the trophy and scarred by past defeats, but Ronald Koeman’s blistering free-kick changed everything

WORDS Simon Hart | ILLUSTRATION Osvaldo Casanova

A SLIDING-DOORS MOMENT. That might be one way of describing it – but for the fact that the door was not so much slid ajar as blown off its hinges.

It was the door to the future for one of Europe’s biggest football clubs. And that future began on 20 May 1992 thanks to the right foot of Ronald Koeman and a free-kick of such ferocity, precision and significance that even the man who scored it later admitted: “It gave me goose bumps.”

It was a goal that bequeathed a new sense of confidence for culés, as Barcelona followers are known. Thirty-two years since their first European Cup adventure had been cut short by a semi-final loss to Real Madrid, of all teams, Barcelona finally had their hands on the trophy that their arch-rivals had already claimed six times. As the front page of the next day’s Mundo Deportivo put it: “Ja la tenim”. Now we have it.

The ghosts of final defeats in 1961 and 1986 had been exorcised by the Dream Team. Barcelona already had prestige and history but with victory over Sampdoria that warm Wembley night, they joined the ultimate elite.

That Koeman delivered it was fitting. After the group stage victory at Dynamo Kyiv, he pledged to the press: “We’ll be at Wembley.” This confidence befitted the only Barcelona player with a European Cup winner’s medal already, earned with PSV Eindhoven in 1988 following a final shoot-out against Benfica that he opened with a successful conversion.

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“barcelona HAVE WON MORE SINCE, BUT THE FIRST IS A VERY IMPORTANT MOMENT FOR EVERYBODY"
By

The Catalans called him Tintin, but there was nothing boyish about him on the field as he emerged to become an essential piece of the side built by his compatriot Johan Cruyff. The pair had a close relationship – their families would dine out together – and Koeman contributed extensively with his intelligent reading of the game, long precise passes and remarkable scoring rate for a defender. There were 106 goals during his six years at Barcelona, including 26 dead-ball strikes – a club record broken only by Lionel Messi. Yet in the final lead-up, old ghosts appeared in Catalonia. Speaking on the 25th anniversary, Koeman recalled that “people weren’t optimistic because of what happened in Seville”: that 1986 final defeat on penalties by Steaua Bucureşti. “They have won more since, but the first is a very important moment for everybody.” As a reflection of this anxiety, Barcelona fielded an extra defender, with Nando, Albert Ferrer and Juan Carlos looking after the trio of Gianluca Vialli, Roberto Mancini and Attilio Lombardo.

The untouched scoreboard at full time didn’t tell the full story: Sampdoria goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca had made a handful of sharp saves; Hristo Stoichkov struck a post for Barça when clean through; and Vialli missed twice with only Andoni Zubizarreta to beat.

For Sampdoria, there was further frustration as a result of referee Aron Schmidhuber’s decision to penalise Giovanni Invernizzi for a tangle of legs after he had fallen when challenging Eusebio Sacristán a few metres from his own box. But history does not record that it was a soft free-kick; Koeman certainly didn’t care. His most recent European goal had been a free-kick in the previous season’s European Cup Winners’ Cup final, hit from even further out against Manchester United.

As the clock ticked to 112 minutes, Schmidhuber blew his whistle. Stoichkov, his left foot on the ball, touched it to José Mari Bakero, who teed up Koeman. Pagliuca anticipated correctly but the flight of the ball was so swift and crisp that it cut through the Samp players rushing out of the wall and flashed past the keeper’s right hand like an arrow into the corner.

“Gooooooooooooooool!” cried Joaquim Maria Puyal from Catalunya Ràdio, screaming the same word a further 28 times as Koeman sprinted to the corner flag and vanished beneath a mob of orange shirts. When he re-emerged, he paused, raised his hands and covered his eyes. Goose bumps indeed.

Classic Final Goals

Turning Point

Barcelona went into the 1992 European Cup final having never won the trophy and scarred by past defeats, but Ronald Koeman’s blistering free-kick changed everything

WORDS Simon Hart | ILLUSTRATION Osvaldo Casanova

A SLIDING-DOORS MOMENT. That might be one way of describing it – but for the fact that the door was not so much slid ajar as blown off its hinges.

It was the door to the future for one of Europe’s biggest football clubs. And that future began on 20 May 1992 thanks to the right foot of Ronald Koeman and a free-kick of such ferocity, precision and significance that even the man who scored it later admitted: “It gave me goose bumps.”

It was a goal that bequeathed a new sense of confidence for culés, as Barcelona followers are known. Thirty-two years since their first European Cup adventure had been cut short by a semi-final loss to Real Madrid, of all teams, Barcelona finally had their hands on the trophy that their arch-rivals had already claimed six times. As the front page of the next day’s Mundo Deportivo put it: “Ja la tenim”. Now we have it.

The ghosts of final defeats in 1961 and 1986 had been exorcised by the Dream Team. Barcelona already had prestige and history but with victory over Sampdoria that warm Wembley night, they joined the ultimate elite.

That Koeman delivered it was fitting. After the group stage victory at Dynamo Kyiv, he pledged to the press: “We’ll be at Wembley.” This confidence befitted the only Barcelona player with a European Cup winner’s medal already, earned with PSV Eindhoven in 1988 following a final shoot-out against Benfica that he opened with a successful conversion.

“barcelona HAVE WON MORE SINCE, BUT THE FIRST IS A VERY IMPORTANT MOMENT FOR EVERYBODY"
By

The Catalans called him Tintin, but there was nothing boyish about him on the field as he emerged to become an essential piece of the side built by his compatriot Johan Cruyff. The pair had a close relationship – their families would dine out together – and Koeman contributed extensively with his intelligent reading of the game, long precise passes and remarkable scoring rate for a defender. There were 106 goals during his six years at Barcelona, including 26 dead-ball strikes – a club record broken only by Lionel Messi. Yet in the final lead-up, old ghosts appeared in Catalonia. Speaking on the 25th anniversary, Koeman recalled that “people weren’t optimistic because of what happened in Seville”: that 1986 final defeat on penalties by Steaua Bucureşti. “They have won more since, but the first is a very important moment for everybody.” As a reflection of this anxiety, Barcelona fielded an extra defender, with Nando, Albert Ferrer and Juan Carlos looking after the trio of Gianluca Vialli, Roberto Mancini and Attilio Lombardo.

The untouched scoreboard at full time didn’t tell the full story: Sampdoria goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca had made a handful of sharp saves; Hristo Stoichkov struck a post for Barça when clean through; and Vialli missed twice with only Andoni Zubizarreta to beat.

For Sampdoria, there was further frustration as a result of referee Aron Schmidhuber’s decision to penalise Giovanni Invernizzi for a tangle of legs after he had fallen when challenging Eusebio Sacristán a few metres from his own box. But history does not record that it was a soft free-kick; Koeman certainly didn’t care. His most recent European goal had been a free-kick in the previous season’s European Cup Winners’ Cup final, hit from even further out against Manchester United.

As the clock ticked to 112 minutes, Schmidhuber blew his whistle. Stoichkov, his left foot on the ball, touched it to José Mari Bakero, who teed up Koeman. Pagliuca anticipated correctly but the flight of the ball was so swift and crisp that it cut through the Samp players rushing out of the wall and flashed past the keeper’s right hand like an arrow into the corner.

“Gooooooooooooooool!” cried Joaquim Maria Puyal from Catalunya Ràdio, screaming the same word a further 28 times as Koeman sprinted to the corner flag and vanished beneath a mob of orange shirts. When he re-emerged, he paused, raised his hands and covered his eyes. Goose bumps indeed.

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