Category Archives: Iconic Moments

Iconic Moments: Le Tissier has the final say at The Dell (May 2001)

In May 2001, Southampton were about to bid farewell to The Dell; the ground they had played their football at for over 100 years. Their new state-of-the-art stadium at St Mary’s was ready for use at the start of the 2001-2002 campaign.

Their final match at the historic, tight ground would be against Arsenal and fittingly, the final say had to go to the player Saints fans called ‘Le God.’

Over the years, Matt Le Tissier had scored a glut of sensational goals. A series of special free-kicks, a long-distance stunning away strike at Blackburn Rovers and a fabulous individual solo effort at home to Newcastle United in October 1993 were among some of the best. By the time the 2001 season ended, injuries meant his role was now restricted to limited substitute appearances. He came on in the 74th minute to a rapturous reception and he wasn’t going to leave it at that.

With the scoreline at 2-2 in the closing stages, James Beattie won the ball in the air and when Martin Keown failed to clear, the ball sat up perfectly for Le Tissier. He struck a beautiful left-foot shot on the half-volley and it flew past Alex Manninger.

The ground erupted in noise and ecstasy as he was mobbed by his teammates. Afterwards, he said: “It’s very special to score the last goal and I couldn’t have imagined a better ending. But I don’t see why I can’t score the first goal at the new stadium as well,”

Unfortunately, he would never score another goal in professional football and retired in 2002 but what a way to finish football at The Dell for Southampton’s greatest player.

 

Advertisements

Iconic Moments: A devastating LFC start (February 2014)

Arsenal travelled to Anfield in February 2014 looking to cement their place as the title favourites. Liverpool FC were fighting for a top-four finish but still harboured an outside shot of a title challenge. After all, they had been top on Christmas Day. However, a 1-1 draw a week earlier away at struggling West Bromwich Albion had seen the Reds slip further behind the top three of Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea.

They needed to make up for the dropped points at The Hawthorns and they did so in the most spectacular fashion with one of the most devastating spells ever seen in Premier League football. Less than a minute had been played, when Arsenal failed to deal with an early Steven Gerrard free-kick and Martin Skrtel headed the ball past Wojciech Szczesny.

Nine minutes later, the same duo combined, this time from a corner with Skrtel guiding a brilliant header into the net from distance despite Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain’s best efforts to keep the ball out. Liverpool ran riot and had further opportunities to extend their lead. Daniel Sturridge missed a great chance and Luis Suarez smashed a strike against the post as Arsenal wilted under the intense pressure.

Goal number three arrived in the 16th minute. Raheem Sterling finished from close-range, guiding in Suarez’s cross. Then, four minutes later – Philippe Coutinho robbed a woeful Mesut Ozil of possession before playing the perfect pass for Sturridge to add his name onto the scoresheet. It was simply breathtaking stuff. Four goals in the first 20 minutes that made a mockery of Arsenal’s title challenge.

Sterling added a fifth goal in the second half and the final scoreline of 5-1 didn’t flatter Liverpool. They closed the gap on Arsenal to five points and would begin an 11-match winning run that would take them within an ace of the title. It was one of those moments which get the purists so excited about ‘The Beautiful Game.’

Iconic Moments: An Argentine ownership opera at West Ham (August 2006)

The East End of London has seen some unbelievable drama down the years in the Premier League but even EastEnders would have struggled to have matched the ownership opera of two star Argentine players that could have had severe repercussions for West Ham United in 2006.

When West Ham signed South American superstars Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez on the August transfer deadline day from Corinthians, it was seen as a real coup. Both players had sparkled in the World Cup finals that summer in Germany and had been linked to leaving their home continent and joining one of the European superpower sides. It was even a surprise to Hammers manager Alan Pardew but he was never going to pass up the opportunity to sign these two players.

The club claimed they had agreements with the players’ representatives but there was suspicion seen by several of the Londoners rivals about the legality of the transfers. It came more to light in January 2007 when Mascherano left after an unhappy few months at Upton Park and joined Liverpool FC, initially on-loan before it became a permanent deal more than a year later.

Also that month, West Ham were asked to provide details of their agreement with the representatives of Tevez and Mascherano and this was something they failed to comply with. They were linked with Media Sports Investment, a company formerly run by Kia Joorabchian.

In March, West Ham were given two charges of breaching transfer regulations over third-party ownership which was strictly forbidden. In a statement, the Premier League said: “It is the board’s complaint that there were agreements in relation to both these transfers that enabled third parties to acquire the ability materially to influence the club’s policies and/or the performance of its teams in League matches and/or the competitions set out in Rule E10. The board’s view is this constitutes a breach of rule U18.”

A points deduction was expected. As they were 10 points adrift of safety before the charges were made, a docking of points would have seen the club all-but relegated. At this stage, Tevez finally clicked into form, scoring goals on a regular basis as West Ham began a late season surge towards safety. Before the season ended, West Ham pleaded guilty at a tribunal to the charges. They were given a hefty £5.5 million fine but escaped a points deduction. This infuriated their relegation rivals, Sheffield United, Fulham and Wigan Athletic. Ultimately, West Ham survived on the final day with a victory at Old Trafford and it was the Blades who were relegated to the Championship.

Tevez scored the winner that day at Old Trafford and would spend the next two years playing at the Theatre of Dreams and winning back-to-back titles. He was the driving force behind the Hammers’ escape act of 2006-2007 but it still remains one of the most controversial transfer dealings in Premier League history.

Iconic Moments: Arsenal’s awful day at St Andrew’s (February 2008)

Arsenal arrived at St Andrew’s in February 2008 as favourites to win the Premier League title. Arsene Wenger’s side were playing some swashbuckling football and had established a handy seven-point lead over Manchester United. They had lost just once all season and were facing a Birmingham side that looked like a team who would be scrapping for survival right until the end of the campaign. They left a broken side and it was a psychological blow they wouldn’t recover from.

The game was just over a minute old when Arsenal forward Eduardo was tackled by Birmingham defender Martin Taylor. It wasn’t a good challenge and a red card was immediately brandished by Mike Dean. As Taylor received his marching orders, Arsenal players and experienced physio Gary Lewin immediately called for the stretcher. Eduardo had suffered a dreadful double leg fracture in the tackle and it was so gruesome, none of the TV companies broadcasting the match live could show what had happened. Although Eduardo would go onto play professionally again, he never looked the same after these events.

The Arsenal players looked haunted by what they had just witnessed and there was more to come. A double from Theo Walcott meant they’d battled into a 2-1 lead but then, they conceded a penalty in injury-time. Captain William Gallas was so disgusted with the decision; he threw a petty strop, walking to the other side of the pitch. James McFadden would convert the spot-kick to earn a share of the spoils for Birmingham. Afterwards, Wenger couldn’t hide his anger at the Eduardo injury, saying: “That is a joke. The tackle was horrendous and I don’t think that Taylor should play again. When these tackles happen, they always say that he is not that sort of player. But you only have to kill someone once and you have a dead person.”

He would later retract those comments on an awful day for Arsenal. They wouldn’t win any of their next four matches and ultimately finished third, four points behind champions Manchester United.

Iconic Moments: A Brucey bonus (April 1993)

The first Premier League season was drawing towards its conclusion and a real head-to-head scrap was developing for the championship between Ron Atkinson’s Aston Villa and Manchester United. Alex Ferguson’s team were doing the chasing going into the Easter weekend. It was at this stage a year earlier where they’d folded in the run-in and handed the title to their rivals from the Pennines in Leeds United.

United were playing Sheffield Wednesday at Old Trafford and the game was finely poised at 0-0 when the referee in the match, Mike Peck picked up an Achilles injury and had to be replaced. Beginning the match as linesman, John Hilditch was suddenly thrust into the limelight as substitute referee. His first decision was a simple one. Paul Ince’s poorly-timed tackle on Chris Waddle saw a penalty given. It was converted by John Sheridan and Sheffield Wednesday led 1-0. Some Manchester United fans looked despondent. Were their title dreams and the 26-year wait for a championship set to continue?

The home side pushed forward and in the 88th minute, Steve Bruce headed home from a corner to level the scores. Time was surely nearly up? Not for Hilditch. He had timed the length of the stoppage for the referee change, plus numerous time-wasting tactics from the Owls’ players, including substitutions. It meant seven minutes of injury-time were to be played and this was before electronic scoreboards on the touchline.

Wednesday players kept badgering the referee on how long was left but the final whistle still wasn’t blown. There was just enough time for Gary Pallister’s cross to be deflected off Nigel Worthington’s head and into the path of Bruce, who diverted another terrific header past Chris Woods’ despairing dive. Old Trafford exploded in joy and exultation. On the touchline, Alex Ferguson and Brian Kidd couldn’t contain themselves. Kidd jumped onto the pitch and looking up to the heavens. This was an iconic image in the first 25 years of Premier League football.

The 2-1 win was the catalyst for a faultless run-in from Manchester United. They would eventually win the title by 10 points, provided by efficient time-keeping and a real Brucey bonus.

Iconic Moments: The greatest Premier League day ever? (February 2011)

There have been some spellbinding days in Premier League history but few can match the goal-filled afternoon fans were treated to on Saturday, 5 February 2011.

It started with the lunchtime kick-off between Stoke City and Sunderland. This was usually a fixture with few goals or talking points but there were five goals in this match with Stoke winning 3-2. Robert Huth scored the winner in the dying embers after the Black Cats had led twice. It was a fine comeback from Stoke but it was to be completely outdone in the 3pm kick-offs.

At St James’ Park, Arsenal travelled to a brittle Newcastle United side that were still coming to terms with the transfer deadline day sale of Andy Carroll to Liverpool FC. Their lack of confidence was shown from the outset. Theo Walcott scored inside of a minute and Arsenal incredibly led 4-0 after just 21 minutes. However, a red card for Abou Diaby shortly after the restart changed the course of the match. Joey Barton scored two penalties and with a Leon Best strike, Newcastle had made it back to 3-4. The seconds were ticking away when Cheick Tiote scored an unbelievable equaliser to make it 4-4. It wasn’t just the greatest comeback of the season. It was the greatest comeback in Premier League history.

Arsenal dropped two silly points but there were no such problems for Manchester City. Carlos Tevez hit a first half hat-trick as they brushed aside West Bromwich Albion 3-0. It was a 13th defeat in 18 matches for the Baggies and 24 hours later, they placed manager Roberto Di Matteo on gardening leave.

Louis Saha helped himself to four goals in an end-to-end encounter between Everton and Blackpool. Despite the Tangerines’ leading 3-2 midway through the second half, Saha’s contribution nullified their best efforts. Everton won 5-3. There were seven goals at the DW Stadium where Wigan Athletic edged out Blackburn Rovers 4-3. James McCarthy scored the pick of the goals in this thriller.

There was late drama at White Hart Lane. Despite Bolton Wanderers dominating most of the second half, they were beaten 2-1 by Tottenham Hotspur. Niko Kranjcar scored an injury-time winner. At Villa Park, the goals kept coming. Kyle Walker scored his first Premier League goal but Aston Villa were held to a 2-2 draw by Fulham.

In seven matches, there had been an incredible 38 goals and three more would follow in one of the most surprising results of the season. Manchester United arrived at Molineux for the late kick-off still unbeaten and against a Wolverhampton Wanderers side that were odds-on favourites to be relegated. Nani gave the visitors’ a lead but Wolves fought back superbly. George Elokobi levelled matters and Kevin Doyle’s header was good enough for Wolves to beat the league leaders 2-1.

It remains the highest-scoring afternoon since the Premier League went to 20 teams in 1995 and it will take some total to eclipse what has to be seen as one of the greatest days in Premier League history.

Iconic Moments: Di Canio shoves Alcock (September 1998)

There’s no doubt that Italian Paolo di Canio was a character on the football field. He was fabulously gifted at times but also frustratingly infuriating at other occasions. He represented Sheffield Wednesday, West Ham United and Charlton Athletic during his Premier League playing days and had an explosive reign in charge of Sunderland during 2013. The lowest point of his career came in September 1998.

Sheffield Wednesday were playing the reigning champions Arsenal at Hillsborough and the game was goalless when the match blew up spectacularly. Patrick Vieira and Wim Jonk had a scrap in the middle of the pitch. Vieira didn’t like the challenge and over-reacted, pushing over the Dutch player. Other players started piling in, with di Canio and Martin Keown getting into a heated confrontation, whilst others were trying to play peacemaker.

Referee Paul Alcock took his time before brandishing the red card in di Canio’s direction. What happened next was inexcusable on di Canio’s part. He shoved Alcock to the ground. Whilst the referee made the absolute most of the contact, di Canio had no right to behave like he did. The FA took a dim view to the incident and handed him an 11-match ban. Sheffield Wednesday suspended him immediately after the incident and he would never play for the club again. He moved to West Ham in January 1999.

For the record, Keown was also sent off in the incident and Sheffield Wednesday ended up winning the game 1-0 with a late winner from Lee Briscoe.

It was a sour incident and whilst some do feel Paul Alcock definitely over-exaggerated his fall, showing physical contact to a referee was simply unacceptable. For all the brilliance of di Canio’s career, including that brilliant goal against Wimbledon in March 2000, these incidents are just as fondly remembered for the wrong reasons.

Iconic Moments: Schmeichel scores! (October 2001)

During the first decade of the Premier League, Peter Schmeichel was arguably the best goalkeeper seen. He won five Premier League titles with Manchester United and developed an art for spectacular saves. However, he did like to score the occasional goal too.

In 1995, he headed home from a corner in a UEFA Cup tie against Rotor Volgograd at Old Trafford. United went out on away goals so his efforts counted for little. Six years later, he was at it again, this time playing for Aston Villa.

Villa were at Goodison Park, playing Everton and trailing 3-1. Schmeichel decided to come up into the Everton penalty area for a corner and when the Toffees’ defenders failed to clear, Schmeichel smashed the ball into the back of the net with a volley that Thierry Henry would have been proud of.

Everton held on to claim all three points on the day but it was the Dane who made all the headlines afterwards. In its 10th season, Schmeichel had become the first goalkeeper to score a goal. He ended his career in 2003 with Manchester City, having scored nine goals professionally at club level. Not a bad achievement for a player who was an expert at keeping them out at the other end.

Iconic Moments: Tottenham denied by a lack of technology (January 2005)

Tottenham Hotspur hadn’t won at the home of Manchester United since the Premier League had begun in 1992. They should have taken all three points in January 2005 but for an amazing aberration by the match officials at Old Trafford.

The game was in the closing stages tied at 0-0 when Roy Carroll was caught off his line by an eagle-eyed Pedro Mendes. The Tottenham midfielder tried his luck from at least 40-yards out and the ball squirmed out of Carroll’s grasp and clearly bounced over the goal-line.

However, this came in a time where technology of judging whether the ball has crossed the line was not available to the officials. With Mark Clattenburg not having a clear view, it was his linesman Ray Lewis who decided the ball had been cleared by a rather sheepish Carroll before the ball had crossed the line.

It was a travesty of a decision and ultimately cost Tottenham a place in Europe come the end of the season. Clattenburg later admitted that if they had the technology available, they would have given the goal but the officials weren’t 100% sure and therefore, couldn’t guess on such a key decision.

After more farcical incidents, goal-line technology finally arrived in the Premier League for the start of the 2013-2014 season.

Iconic Moments: Keegan resigns (January 1997)

He was seen as the man who could do no wrong for Newcastle United. Kevin Keegan was the fans’ favourite on Tyneside. He has sent them home with plenty of joy as a player and produced many memorable moments during his five years as manager.

It was an absolute bombshell for the players and supporters when on 9th January 1997, Keegan decided to resign as manager. That was despite Newcastle being still in the race for the Premier League title and possessing hopes of success in the FA Cup and UEFA Cup.

Form had tailed off towards the end of 1996. Newcastle did go on a seven-game winless sequence but were still fourth in the Premier League and within striking distance of league leaders Liverpool FC. Less than 10 days earlier, they’d battered Tottenham Hotspur 7-1 at St James’ Park. Keegan’s last match in charge had been a 1-1 draw in the FA Cup third round at First Division Charlton Athletic from which he walked out of a press conference after the match. This announcement still came as a shock to all though.

A prepared statement was read out from the club’s Durham training complex, which read: “Newcastle United Football Club today (9th January 1997) announced the resignation of manager Kevin Keegan. Kevin informed the board of his wish to resign at the end of the season, having decided he no longer wishes to continue in football management at this stage in his life. Following lengthy discussions of which the board attempted to persuade Kevin to change his mind, both parties eventually agreed that the best route forward was for the club to, reluctantly; accept his resignation with immediate effect.

Keegan would return to the hotseat later on in his career, first with Fulham a year later before spells managing the England national team, Manchester City and another brief spell at Newcastle in 2008.

His teams were exciting, enthralling and energising to watch. They were “The Entertainers.”

Iconic Moments: Keegan loses it live on Sky (April 1996)

In 1996, Newcastle United looked on course to become Premier League champions, just three years after returning to the top-flight of English football. Under the guidance of Kevin Keegan, the Magpies’ were playing some of the best football around, thrilling their supporters and also the neutral fan. They were even christened ‘The Entertainers’ by Sky Sports.

In January, they beat Bolton Wanderers 2-1 and put themselves 12 points clear of the chasing pack. Surely, the biggest prize in English football was on its way to Tyneside? Not if Manchester United had anything to do with it. Alex Ferguson’s side went on a spectacular run of form, winning 10 out of their next 11 games and Newcastle started to wobble. They lost at West Ham United, Arsenal and Blackburn Rovers and were edged out in a 4-3 epic by Liverpool FC at Anfield. Now, they were playing catch-up.

In mid-April, Manchester United were pushed all the way by their rivals in the Pennies, Leeds United. Leeds went down to 10 men early on, yet looked the more likely side to score before Roy Keane broke their resistance. Afterwards, Ferguson turned the heat on Keegan by making comments about the performance the opposition had put in at Old Trafford. He said: “Why aren’t they in the top six? They’re cheating their manager, that’s all it is. When they come to play Newcastle, you’ll notice the difference. It’s sad to say that but I’m very disappointed in Leeds.”

12 days later, Newcastle travelled to Elland Road needing a win to stay in the title race. Leeds battered Keegan’s side early on, hitting the woodwork twice and forcing Shaka Hislop into some decent saves. Newcastle dug in, scored a goal from Keith Gillespie and held on for a 1-0 victory – their third in a row. Keegan then went live on Sky and lost his temper, providing everyone with one of the greatest rants in football history.

“When you do that with footballers like he said about Leeds, and when you do things like that about a man like Stuart Pearce…I’ve kept really quiet but I’ll tell you something, he went down in my estimations when he said that. We have not resorted to that. You can tell him now, we’re still fighting for this title and he’s got to go to Middlesbrough and get something.”

“And I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them. Love it.”

Kevin Keegan had blown it and so had Newcastle. They drew at Nottingham Forest three nights later and Manchester United ended up Premier League champions by four points. Newcastle have never come close to winning the championship since.

Iconic Moments: Here’s a Man in his Pants! (August 2016)

Although he played for the likes of Barcelona, Everton and Tottenham Hotspur in his career, Leicester City will always be Gary Lineker’s club. In 2015-2016, he went through a rollercoaster of emotions as his side, the 5000-1 outsiders shocked world football to its core.

Lineker was very surprised when the Leicester board appointed Claudio Ranieri as their new manager in July 2015 despite the excellent work Nigel Pearson had produced in keeping the Foxes’ in the Premier League the previous campaign. Week after week, Leicester continued to defy the odds with their counter-attacking football and high-tempo that was making many sides look ordinary.

After they won at Everton to ensure top spot on Christmas Day 2015, Lineker famously posted on Twitter that if Leicester went onto win the Premier League title, he would present the first edition of next season’s Match of the Day in just his underpants! Five months later, when Tottenham failed to win at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea, the unthinkable came true. Leicester City were champions of England!

So the main question on everyone’s lips as the 2016-2017 season started was would Gary stick to his promise? Sure enough, he appeared on-screen in just his underpants or a massive pair of boxer shorts/normal shorts. Either way, it gave studio panellists Alan Shearer and Ian Wright something to laugh about.

As the BBC continuity announcer said into the MOTD link: “Now on BBC One on this hot summer’s evening, here’s a man in his pants!”