Six decades and 16 editions with more than 700 goals in the final stages give a choice. So many of all tastes, colors and languages. Although unanimity in this type of action is almost impossible, Marco Van Basten’s goal at the Olympic Games in Munich, in the 1988 final against the USSR, which was 2-0 for the Netherlands, monopolizes nominations to be considered the most spectacular of the history of the competition.
Competing with the Dutchman’s work of art is Gascoigne’s thunderous goal in England-Scotland in 1996: ‘hat’ with the left and splicing with the right without the ball touching the grass; Panenka’s last shot penalty in the 1976 final; the Chilean average in the air of the Irish Whelan to the USSR in the 88; the picadita of the Croatian Suker to Schmeichel in 96; the Czech Poborski’s spoon, also in ’96; Zidane’s direct foul against Spain in 2000 …
All great, but possibly none of them have as many footballing qualities in the same action as the one on 12th orange that secured for his country the first great international title that he had been pursuing for years. That auction had everything you can have: aesthetics, elegance, inspiration, touch, individual technique, precision, power, daring … and luck, as the interested party himself recognized after the game when describing the play.
Marco speaks: “We were already in the second half, and I was a bit tired. The ball came to me from Arnold Muhren, and I thought, ‘I can control it and try to do something between all those defenders, or I can do it in an easier way, take a chance and shoot.’ I opted for the latter. It takes a lot of luck with a shot like that. It’s one of those things that sometimes just happens. You try to do it, but you need a lot of luck ”.
Van Basten started that Eurocup as a substitute. In his first season at Milan he only played 11 league games with three goals (564 minutes). He arrived with a touched ankle and fractured his clavicle in mid-October. It did not reappear until April. From then on he did not play any full game, although he scored an important goal to conquer the scudetto against Napoli in San Paolo. Michels trusted him and called him up for the Eurocup.
He started as a substitute. His words, an example. “Michels chose Bosman, who had already played a few games and done well. There was no reason to change. You never have to change things when you win and Holland was winning. It was not a big problem for me to be left out. He was not in good shape. He had no reason to think that I should be in the starting eleven. I was there watching, learning and waiting for my chance ”.
It came immediately. After the defeat in the first match against the USSR. He started in the second against England. He almost left the front door of the Rheinstadion in Dusseldorf: three goals. Two with the left and one with the right. The position was already his until the final. In the semifinals against Germany, with 1-0 against, he reappeared. They gave him the penalty that Koeman transformed into a draw and his was the second goal, with the right, that was worth the final that catapulted him to glory. With those five goals, he was proclaimed top scorer in the competition. He was then 23 years old and had a splendid future ahead of him that only injuries were badly truncated. Not without first being elected Ballon d’Or three times (1988, 1989 and 1992) and with his Milan he accumulated a good handful of trophies, including two consecutive European Cups (1988 and 89).