Friday 21 November 2014

Wacky, weird & wonderful moments in the Premier League

Ahead of the 23rd Premier League season, David Kelly casts a wry eye over the 23 most shocking and stunning events on and off the field since Sheffield United striker Brian Deane scored the first ever PL goal in 1992. From Cantona's kung-fu kick to Keegan 'loving it' at Toon

Published 11/08/2014 | 02:30

King Eric goes la-laa at the Palace

Sent off for hacking out at Crystal Palace's Richard Shaw, Cantona was being escorted from the field when Matthew Simmons, a 20-year-old glazier, unloaded an expletive-filled, xenophobic and personal rant that pierced the Frenchman's heart.

And so the Frenchman delivered a four-studded kick that pierced the glazier's chest. Most of us had sympathy with the Frenchman, especially when Simmons sold his story – "kick and sell". Cantona got 120 hours of community service and a nine-month football ban.

MAY 13, 2012

'Agueroooooooooooo!!'

Man City win league. . . just about

A moment that was made for television – or rather, two televisions.

It says much for the ordinariness of the "title race" that a shockingly ordinary QPR team could have come so close – it was 93:20 when Sergio Aguero scored the decisive goal – to upsetting the odds.

As Aguero stopped time and elongated Martin Tyler's South American-esque goal announcement, the other sight of the day was watching Alex Ferguson's gum-chewing jaw drop.

APRIL 22, 2001

'Take that, you c***'

Keane on Haaland. Revenge served ice cold

Four years after his failed attempt to tackle Alfe-Inge Haaland had cost him a season through injury, Roy Keane had always vowed revenge for what he claimed were the Norwegian's accusations that the fiery Corkman had feigned injury.

Keane would allow a World Cup to pass him by before being accused of feigning injury; Haaland's fate was sealed. He would later be banned for revealing all in his book. Funny, there were actually worse tackles that day.

APRIL 21, 2013

The 'bite' stuff...

Suarez shows appetite with Ivanovic nibble

As Chelsea were heading to a rare victory at Anfield, the controversial Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez decided to take matters into his own hands – or rather his teeth – by sinking his gnashers into the arms of defender Branislav Ivanovic.

After much predictable displays of victimhood from Merseyside, he was banned for 10 matches. A comedian at the time was relieved that, after his impromptu meal, at least he didn't ask for the Cech.

APRIL 27, 1996

'I'd LOVE it if we beat them...'

Keegan loses the plot

As Newcastle United's once-imperious lead over Man Utd was whittled away, so was their famously combustible manager's composure. He played for England – managed them, too – but is still best remembered for screaming: "I would love it ... " while wearing your granny's headphones.

Keegan accused United's rivals of "going easy" on Alex Ferguson's teams; the prosaic truth was that Newcastle's kamikaze defence was incapable of holding even a 22-point lead, let alone a 12-point one. Still, great TV.

SEPTEMBER 26, 1998

Feisty Italian Alcocks up

Di Canio's push comes to shove

Little did we know it then but controversial Italian Paolo Di Canio was an admirer of black-clad officialdom. Not that bemused official Paul Alcock would agree in this Arsenal clash, as he was sent tumbling comically to the ground by the Italian's tempestuous push. It wouldn't be the last time Di Canio would get in trouble for raising his right arm in protest; on this occasion he was given an 11-match ban.

FEBRUARY 1, 2005

'I'd a lot of hatred for Arsenal'

Keane and Vieira's tunnel vision

Roy Keane and Patrick Vieira were the most combustible combatants on the pitch but their most classic confrontation arguably took place off it, as Keane defended the diminutive Gary Neville in this infamous pre-match bust-up.

The incident not only revealed the warrior side of Keane's nature but also the less heralded sharp wit and cutting humour of the Man Utd enforcer. "If you love Senegal so much, why don't you go play for them?" Classic.

APRIL 3, 1996

'Collymore closing IN!'

The greatest Premier League game ever?

A game of so many classic moments – Stan Collymore's injury-time winner, Faustino Asprilla's delicate lob, Jason McAteer's cross for Collymore's equaliser – was summed up in one memorable image.

Kevin Keegan – yes, him again – slumped on the advertising hoardings in a coat that is clearly two sizes too big summed up a night of unparalleled drama. "Either we go on, or I go," he declared. It would soon be the latter.

MAY 14, 1995

'Blackburn are champions'

King Kenny's Rovers lose battle but win war

It would take an owner investing millions to ensure an unfashionable club like Blackburn could ever win the Premier League again, just as it took an owner investing millions to ensure they did so in 1995.

Going into the final day, Kenny Dalglish's side were two points up until Jamie Redknapp scored a dramatic late winner at Anfield; however, Man Utd's inability to beat West Ham away ensured surreal celebrations as Blackburn gleefully celebrated their defeat as if it were a victory. Because it was.

APRIL 10, 1993

Brought a Kidd to his knees

Fergie time and Brucie bonus for United

Aston Villa stood poised to win the title after securing the point they needed as Irish midfielder John Sheridan's goal for Sheffield Wednesday seemed to be condemning United to a defeat.

Up stepped Steve Bruce, first to convert Denis Irwin's corner with six minutes remaining and then, six minutes into the newly-inscribed 'Fergie Time', with the dramatic winner to launch a sustained dynasty of success. Worth watching for assistant Brian Kidd's prancing dancing alone.

AUGUST 19, 1995

'You can't win with kids'

Child's play as Hansen gets it wrong – badly

As rejections of potential history-makers go, Alan Hansen's withering assault on Man Utd's title credentials was up there with the poor sod from Decca who passed on signing the Beatles.

"You can't win anything with kids," declared Hansen on the opening 'Match of the Day' of the 1995/96 season. A team featuring unknowns like Beckham, a pair of Nevilles, Scholes and Butt had featured in a losing side to Aston Villa. History records a slightly different verdict.

OCTOBER 19, 2003

'Have you seen the white Pele?'

Rooney announces his arrival

The moment Wayne Rooney burst on to the scene, becoming a favourite of housewives – and grannies – launching a wondrous career of smoking, gambling, womanising, eating, hair loss and goals. Lots of goals. Picking up a pass from Thomas Gravesen, Rooney's audacious shot beyond the despairing dive of David Seaman ended Arsenal's 30-game unbeaten run and launched a superstar of the Premier League and promulgated an industry in hair restoration.

JUNE 2, 2004

'I am the Special One'

Mourinho proves he is certainly no duffer

Jose Mourinho arrived at Chelsea as a virtual unknown in 2004, defined chiefly in relation to his association with the late, great Bobby Robson, with whom he worked at Barcelona. Within moments of his unveiling, he declared his intent to an unsuspecting public.

"I am the special one," he chimed. And, with a vivacious side featuring Ireland's Damien Duff in a thrilling 4-3-3 formation, he made good on his word with a runaway league triumph. The ego had landed.

AUGUST 17, 1996

A golden goal from Goldenballs

Becks decks Dons from halfway line

The Premier League has unveiled many icons of the game and, like Rooney, Beckham's legend was launched from some way out – the halfway line to be precise. Ignore those who decry the venue – Selhurst Park, the opposition – Wimbledon, score – 3-0, or the time – 89th minute.

This was a truly wonderful strike although perhaps not best encapsulated by a team-mate whose generosity to others was not always an obvious trait. "Good goal," remarked King Eric Cantona.

SEASON 2003/04

The Invincibles

Undefeated Gunners waltz to the title

Many feats in the topsy-turvy Premier League are seemingly capable of being rehashed on an annual basis – from bites to racial abuse, incredulous scorelines to astounding individual feats – but we'd wager Arsenal's unbeaten season will remain a benchmark for all time.

NOVEMBER 23, 1996

You were Weah off!

Dia oh dear as Souness falls for prankster

Anyone can be a footballer, they say. Ali Dia demonstrated the truth of this maxim. When Graeme Souness received a phone call from George Weah recommending a player, the Scot dropped all his hard-nosed pretensions.

In fact, the phone call was from a university friend of Ali Dia, who was about as proficient at football as Souness was at managing Liverpool. The sub was subbed off in a league tie against Leeds and was never seen again.

FEBRUARY 28, 2005

'Let's be havin' ya!'

Delia overcooks her rousing half-time rally

Better known as a TV chef, Norwich director Delia Smith's stirring, mostly slurring, half-time exhortations to a side who were as soggy as a soufflé have gone down in TV history. Her Alan Partridge moment – "Where are you? Let's be havin' ya!" – failed to stop her side sliding into defeat but the fact she managed to make a meal of her half-time rant became a cult collector's item.

AUGUST 30, 2003

Robbie gets the elbow

Ref's Savage attack raises a chuckle from Al

The relatively unknown whistler, Matt Messias, became a hero to many when he did what many supporters and fellow players had been longing to do to Robbie Savage for much of his career – deliver a forearm smash to the Welshman's large gob as he tried to signal a free. Savage would finish the game that Birmingham won 1-0; as did the referee, despite Southampton captain Alan Shearer's amusing attempt to red-card the man in black.

DECEMBER 26, 2008

'Are we sitting comfortably?'

Philled with his own self-importance

As well as housing inordinate talents – and some with none at all – the Premier League has also been home to those with limited skills who can deploy outrageous ego to supersede their shortcomings.

Step forward Phil Brown, the Hull manager who used to have a huge self-portrait hanging in his office, who harangued his team on the pitch at half-time, dripping with fury and self-tanning oil during a Man City trouncing. Jimmy Bullard would later recreate the moment.

OCTOBER 23, 2011

'Why always me?'

Blue moon as City trounce United

United would win the league again but few scorelines reflected the turning of fortunes in Premier League history than this 6-1 Old Trafford rout by the "noisy neighbours" against Alex Ferguson's slowly-declining dynasty.

Mario Balotelli, fresh from setting his house ablaze with fireworks, lit up the Theatre of Dreams and unfurled a T-shirt emblazoned with the message "Why Always me?" on a red letter day for City.

SEPTEMBER 19, 1992

Ronnie's rocket hits the bar

Rosenthal's incredible miss at the Villa

There have been many wonderful goals scored during the Premier League – but almost as many howlers; the race to become the most exciting league in the world accommodates much dross. This day has gone down in infamy for Liverpool fans – and no, not because Torben Piechnik debuted – as Rosenthal did all the hard work and then did the impossible by missing an open goal. Liverpool lost 4-2 to Aston Villa.

MAY 15, 2004

'Any odds, Roman??'

Jesper's £1bn goal

It was a relatively nondescript, end-of-season game but the 1-0 win for Chelsea, aided by Danish winger Jesper Gronjkaer's 20th-minute strike, was arguably one of the most pivotal the Premier League has ever witnessed. For, in its aftermath, what had been a straight £20m knockout clash with Liverpool for a Champions League slot was transformed into something quite remarkable.

With the club on the verge of bankruptcy, Roman Abramovich stepped and invested the first millions – 140 of 'em to be precise – that would change the face of the London club, Premier League football and the global game for ever.

MAY 5, 1996

A right Balls up for Blues

Time's up as Man City get relegated

Not so much where are they now (see above) but where were they then; City once dipped to the third tier of the game and the rot set in on this day when, thinking errantly a 2-2 draw with Liverpool might save them, they were relegated.

Two of their rivals were drawing but manager Alan Ball was told that one of them was losing; hence he told his team to shut up shop. "I was on the bench screaming at them to go for it," recalled Niall Quinn, who knew the real story.

Irish Independent Supplement

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