Claudio Lopez (Valencia v PSV Eindhoven, 1999)
Having regularly seen the likes of Romario, Ronaldo, Ruuds Gullit and van Nistelrooy and the Van der Kerkhof twins to boot, PSV fans have witnessed some superb strikes over the years.
But one of the best strikes ever seen at the Philips Stadion was by a Valencia player: Claudio Lopez, whose amazing volley won Champions League goal of the season in 1999-2000.
Ã¢ÂÂIt could be the greatest goal I ever scored, in that it was spectacular but also because itÃ¢ÂÂs still remembered by Valencia fans,Ã¢ÂÂ says Lopez, Ã¢ÂÂ¨who has become a rally driver since retiring in 2010.
Ã¢ÂÂI hadnÃ¢ÂÂt scored for a long time,Ã¢ÂÂ he recalls. Ã¢ÂÂWeÃ¢ÂÂd started the season very badly. But one aspect our manager [Hector Cuper] had worked on with us a lot was concentration, and we stayed focused that night.
Ã¢ÂÂAmedeo Carboni took a long free-kick and I ran to get the ball, as I always did. It was Ã¢ÂÂ¨a very common play Ã¢ÂÂ only this time, with the ball still high, Ã¢ÂÂ¨I decided to take a direct shot rather than controlling it. It was a risky decision, as you know thereÃ¢ÂÂs a chance youÃ¢ÂÂll miss the ball completely, but not this time. My marker couldnÃ¢ÂÂt do anything, and the goalkeeper didnÃ¢ÂÂt expect it at all.
Ã¢ÂÂKily Gonzalez was the first team-mate to come over to me, and he bowed down to show it had not been an ordinary goal.Ã¢ÂÂ
Indeed it wasnÃ¢ÂÂt. Valencia would go on to reach the Ã¢ÂÂ¨final, where they would lose 3-0 to Vicente del BosqueÃ¢ÂÂs Real Madrid.
Words: Martin Mazur. Illustration: German Aczel. From the August 2012 issue of FourFourTwo. Subscribe!