Every boy and girl growing up in the AS Roma youth team shares the same list of dreams.
Among these are the most common ambitions: pull on the yellow and red jersey as a senior player, score and celebrate in front of the Curva Sud, and score against rivals SS Lazio.
Daniele Verde arrived in the Italian capital as a teenager back in 2010, but his dreams of becoming a Giallorossi superstar never quite materialised. He did make a handful of first-team appearances for Roma, but never experienced the joy of hitting the net.
The 24-year-old did tick one of those items off the ‘to-do list’ on Saturday afternoon, however, bagging an eventually futile equaliser for Spezia against le Aquile. But no one knew the insignificance of the strike at the time and, to be honest, it doesn’t really matter.
Verde scored one of the goals of the season in Spezia’s 2-1 defeat to Lazio, and one of the greatest overhead bicycle kicks that you are ever likely to see on a football pitch.
The moment arrived in the 73rd minute of the Serie A clash, with Lazio holding on to their narrow one-goal advantage. The hosts were very resolute at the back, and it appeared as if it would take something pretty special to beat Pepe Reina.
That’s where Verde steps in. Winger Emmanuel Gyasi won a physical duel with Adam Marusic on the left flank, and tore towards the byline.
Fast running out of space, the winger swung his left boot at the ball and pulled a deep, powerful cross out of the bag. His delivery beat the front post with ease and sailed towards the back stick, level with the penalty spot.
The cross fell slightly behind the onrushing Verde, but that didn’t stop the forward from delving deep to produce something unthinkable.
With the ball well above head height (especially for the 5’6 winger), Verde readjusted his body, planted himself with his back to goal and contorted his body so his head was a foot or so from the floor, and his legs were high above the clouds.
The ex-Roma man flung a left boot in the direction of the powerful cross and met the ball with the sweetest of connections, propelling it towards Reina and the Lazio goal. Any attempts to deny Verde his moment were pointless and a potential crime against football.
Fortunately, Reina got nowhere near the ball as it hurtled towards the top corner, kissing the crossbar and bouncing down to add maximum satisfaction for onlookers around the globe. The pace and accuracy of the shot took us all by surprise, as commentators reeled while trying to describe the madness they had just witnessed.
It was a truly memorable moment in our season, and one that will ultimately draw bittersweet memories for Verde, who will have to caveat this goal with, “but we conceded a last-minute penalty to lose the game,” whenever he discusses his magical acrobatics.
Still, we will forever overlook the result, Daniele, because football is the beautiful game, and not a results business. Pele taught us that, and he is a man we should all listen to when it comes to our favourite sport.