5 goals that every football fan has dreamed of scoring
Jolted awake in the half light of dawn, the rabid cheers of 60,000 faithful still alive and kicking in your ears, you try and reimagine the goal. One. Last. Time.
A last-gasp free kick... or was it a diving header? Either way, it's drifting now... the images slowly retreating back into recesses of your brain. Until next time.
Always a variation of the same, vainglorious, ego-pumping wonder strike or title-snatcher; both man and boy have fantasised about heroic, single-handed deeds on a football pitch ever since our first, embryonic, full kit kick about in the park.
Here are the five goal we've all dreamed of scoring.
1. The Top Corner Free Kick
The commentators voice whispering softly in your ear: "Can he do it for (*insert disappointing nation) here?" You line up your target: top corner or bust. The weight of 10 million frustrated lives resting on your custom-designed boot laces.
Staring down the keeper you begin a run-up that has been perfected over 10,000 hours of practice. Alone in the rain as a child, mum watching from the car park as you obsessively strike, strike, strike.
You're alone again now, alone with 80,000 people holding their collective breath as you try and suppress your wild heartbeat.
Up you step and B A N G, over the wall and into the top left. Wheeling away to bask in the glories of your genius, you can't help but smirk over the fact that the keeper didn't even get off his line.
Those are always the best ones.
2. The Last-Minute Bullet Header
Have you ever tried to actually head a ball properly? Like, actually time a jump and direct a header into a chosen space with speed and accuracy? It's really f*****g difficult.
Anyway, this is a dream. This is a dream and you're a picture of Grecian sculpted perfection; El Capitan and the bedrock of your all-conquering band of world beaters. You own five Louis Vuitton wash bags because, why not?
The ball's whipped in from the far left, the clock sitting red on 90+3, your golden hour. Hair still immaculately coiffed you rise high and send a bullet header low past the flailing keeper who can only manage one pathetic paw at the ball as it rushes past him. What a loser.
This is the one where the opposition fling their arms to the heavens and look for someone, anyone to blame.
3. The Arrogant Volley
Best performed by an aging Gallic enigma (which you are) with a penchant for fine cheeses, fast women and insouciant screamers: you could take it first time, you could control and pass it to someone in a better position, you could try and dribble closer.
You are Bach and this is your 'Mass in B Minor.' Every key, every note intrinsic. Easy.
The soft swivel of the hip, casting back the years. You flick once, flick twice; defenders sprawl and traveling fans sing. You can already see the ball in the net, 10 seconds ahead of anyone else. A Great horned owl amongst lowly wood pigeons.
As the keeper gawps at his net, the gears turning as he tries to suss what just happened. You're already jogging back to the centre line, thinking about the wine pairing for your steak later that night.
It's just another volley, isn't it?
4. The One Man Show
Brutal in its execution and beautiful in its simplicity, the 'One Man Show' relies entirely on the belief that you are absolutely, definitely faster than the guy who's trying to stop you.
As potent now as it was when performed by the fastest 12-year-old in the park, the furious charge down the right wing - barren yards and kneecapped defenders lying in your vengeful wake - holds a certain air of inexorable, masculine force. The route one idea that sometimes you are just objectively better than someone else.
One for the egotists. We know you're out there.
5. The Bicycle Kick
If there was an international census of the most dreamed about dream wonder goal, then surely the bicycle kick would be top of the pile.
Fetishised by those without the bravery, flexibility or sheer cojones to ever try it, close your eyes and see the crowd's astonishment, the paper's back page and the pundit's gushing praise. A moment when any semblance of logic and rationale are cast away in a wave of primeval instinct.
Just jump and have a f*****g crack at it. There is no thought process.