You will have noticed my incredible self control in not yet mentioning the World Cup.
But I was just watching a program called ‘World Cup Goals Galore’ featuring, well, lots and lots and lots of goals (top 10 free kicks; top ten goals scored by defenders; top ten goals scored by players with moustaches etc etc). Even just watching a couple of hundred goals one after another, without the context of the game and with a rather laboured jokey commentary, was joyous.
The great moments in football, more than any other sport I watch, are just wonderful. I think perhaps it’s just the extraordinary implausibility of the fact that they’re doing it with their feet. The human foot is not designed for manipulating objects, and even after years spent watching the game, I don’t think I’ve ever quite lost the sense that it just shouldn’t be possible to intentionally kick a ball into the corner of the goal from 25 yards. Even without defenders and a goalie to worry about.
And yet when it all comes off, it looks so easy and natural that you find yourself thinking “if you can dribble past three people, swivel and whip the ball into the corner of the net, why don’t you do it more often?”