Moments of Magic #14 – Roberto Carlos

by Neil Sherwin

This week Moments of Magic revisits one of the greatest free kicks of all time….or was it just a fluke?

#14 Roberto Carlos v France, 1997

Ask a football fan to name two things of significance that happened at Le Tournoi back in 1997 and chances are they will be stuck after one.

Roberto Carlos’ free kick was the highlight of the mini-tournament involving France, Brazil, England and Italy, and it will live long in the memory.

France conceded a free kick 35 yards from goal and left back Carlos placed the ball before giving himself a considerable run up.

He connected with the ball superbly, cutting across it from left to right thus creating a massive curl that meant it whipped around the outside of the defensive wall before coming in to land nicely in the corner of Fabien Barthez’s net.

The strike has been studied by everyone from armchair supporters to physicists and continues to baffle.

Speaking in an interview with Four Four Two magazine, Carlos admitted there was a certain element of luck about it.

“There’s no explanation, no explanation… the ball was too light,” he said.

“One of those ones that floats all over the place like a kid’s ball, and I hit it really hard – really, really well – with the outside of my foot, but I don’t know… it surprised me when it went in: I thought it was going wide and when it swung so far back and went in off the post I couldn’t believe it.

“It was an impossible goal – you’ll never seen one like that again.”

Carlos was right, and despite trying over and over, he was never really able to emulate his outstanding strike form 1997.

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