There are moments in World Cups that, the instant you see it happen, you know it’s going to make the final edit of the tournament highlight reel. Swiss midfielder Valon Behrami had one of those moments today. In fact, he had two.
Behrami didn’t score or even register an assist. In fact, he doesn’t even feature in the first replay of the goal above. But just wait for the longer replay, and you’ll see Behrami in action.
It’s way past 90 minutes. The final whistle is imminent, and it looks as if Ecuador’s Michael Arroyo has stepped around Behrami in the box and is about to shoot. The stage is set for Arroyo to be the hero and win the game, 2-1 Ecuador. But then …
Our spiky bleached-blonde haired hero, who’d had a distinctly average 92 minutes, gambles it all by making a risky, but perfectly timed, slide tackle in his own box. Like a fast-paced car-jacking, Behrami screeches up alongside Arroyo, rips the ball from his grasp, and then he is up and away, shifting straight into top gear, launching one last counter attack.
Even better, when Ecuador midfielder Carlos Gruezo tries to stop the counter with a smart but cynical takedown around the halfway line, Behrami simply takes the hit, goes down, rolls forward, then bounces back up to keep striding forward before the ref can blow his whistle. The ref waves advantage and, three passes later, Haris Seferovic is scoring a 93rd-minute winner for the Swiss.
It’s Seferovic’s name on the score-sheet, and it’s Seferovic who’ll be credited with scoring the latest winning goal ever in World Cup group play, but we all know this play was driven by Behrami’s determination.
I’d even be willing to bet actual money (Swiss francs if necessary) that our grandkids, their eyes wide with wonder, will be watching that slide tackle and that refusal to stay down on YouTube (or whatever succeeds YouTube when viral videos are all holograms) 50 years from now. And it’s going to look even better in 3D.