Carlos Ruiz (Philadelphia Union v Chicago Fire, 2011)

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Many a great goal has come from a great free-kick: think David Platt vs Belgium, or Roberto Carlos vs France. Then there’s... forget it, we could be here all day. Fewer classic strikes, however, come from absolutely terrible set-pieces – but playing for Philadelphia Union vs Chicago Fire in 2011, Carlos Ruiz did things the hard way.

Having weakly chipped a potentially dangerous free-kick straight onto a defender’s head, Ruiz chased down the clearance and made amends by flicking the ball on before wellying it over the keeper and in – with his weaker peg. “If I sound off-guard,” laughed one commentator, “It’s because it may be the first time I’ve seen Ruiz shoot with his left foot!”

The Guatemalan recalls 
to FFT: “I was lucky the ball bounced back to me from the free-kick. My first thought was just to shoot as hard as I could – I thought if I stopped the 
ball first, I’d hesitate too long."

“It was a golazo in the 
truest sense of the term,” he continues. “It was impossible for any goalkeeper to save. Honestly, that’s the type of goal you don’t plan; you 
really don’t think about it before shooting. You just attempt the shot and wait 
to see what happens.

“I had attempted that shot in practice several times, but you never think you can score a goal like that during a real game. Still, what I enjoy most about football is creating something out of nothing and in this case, I was able to do just that after a bad free-kick.

“Some people have called 
it the goal of the decade. For me, it’s one of the best goals 
I have ever scored.”

Interview: Clemente Lisi. Illustration: German Aczel. From the June 2013 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!