Although the two are almost 1,500 miles apart, the Scottish venue has a very special place in the hearts of Los Blancos supporters.
The home of Scottish football, Hampden Park has played host to a multitude of cup finals and has been the stage of some stunning European performances. Those of a certain vintage will remember Real Madrid’s incredible final against Eintracht Frankfurt in 1960.
This epic battle was one that saw no fewer than 10 goals scored as the Puskas inspired side won a fifth successive European Cup. That game saw a record-breaking 127,000 fans in attendance. Although this may be viewed as football’s greatest game, Hampden Park arguably has bragging rights to football’s greatest goal.
Those of a more contemporary age will be familiar with the last time Real Madrid visited Glasgow in 2002 when Zinedine Zidane’s moment of sheer brilliance gave the Spanish giants win number nine in this competition. Without question it is one of the greatest goals in the tournament’s illustrious history. Although, when you consider the person who scored it and the talents he possessed, it should not come as a surprise that it was Zidane’s magic at work.
Anyone in love with football remembers the exact moment where they were and who they were with, and the pure explosion of joy watching this goal unfold. Pure magic. Pure class. A historic moment in time, Zidane is a player for the ages. There can be absolutely no doubt that on either side of the new millennium, football was nothing more than Zinedine Zidane’s personal playground, and we are all grateful to have witnessed it.
The mid to late 90’s saw the French midfielder labeled as something special, but perhaps with an edge missing from his game. At the same time one could argue that too much edge was the characteristic that proved to be undesirable. That all changed in 1998 as he led France to their first ever FIFA World Cup final, in no small part due to Zidane’s significant contribution.
Two nearly identical headers meant that France would be champions of the world for the first time. Just two years later the team would go on to be crowned continental kings as winners of Euro 2000. Zizou, its charismatic maestro, displayed a few of his best ever performances during the tournament.
However, European club dominance still eluded the French maestro, and with such a talented squad at the Santiago Bernabeu, known as “The Galacticos,” it was not a case of if, but when Real Madrid would win a European Cup again. That missing personal accolade was finally delivered by Zidane’s own outstanding efforts with his sensational match-winning volley in 2002.
This performance only further highlighted just how incredible a player he was. A volleyed effort is one that will hype up any crowd, and although it looks easy to the eye, it is far from easy to execute. With just a split second afforded to any player who attempts one, their efforts can usually go high and wide of the mark. When you consider how quickly a player must position their body, adjust their feet properly and strike the ball cleanly, you can understand why so many attempts fall short.
However, Real Madrid’s French phenom delivered. With his teammate Roberto Carlos making another of his surging runs down the left wing, his almost desperate cross managed to find Zidane on the edge of the area. Although the ball was seemingly hanging in the air, the maestro was right there, ready to pluck it out of the sky. An artist makes something beautiful out of nothing. Zizou took that missed cross and turned it into sheer beauty.
As his body movement was in perfect synchrony with the ball dropping to the ground, he let fly a perfectly executed strike. As soon as it left his magic wand of a foot, there was nothing that Bayer Leverkusen’s goalkeeper could do.
Greatness had just been achieved, and not only was the crowd at Hampden Park left in awe, but fans around the world were rendered speechless by such an extraordinary act. This was a goal worthy of winning any final. This was a goal that, in all honesty, not many contemporaries would even dare attempt, let alone succeed at.
Although long range goals are nothing new, it was more the sheer grace and elegance of his movement, his body’s shape and raw power behind it that would be etched on the memories of football fans all across the world. This was a man at the absolute peak of his prowess. Zidane and his historic goal, played the biggest role in Real Madrid’s 2002 European Cup success.
You don’t need to be French or die-hard Real Madrid fan to appreciate the mesmerizing talent Zidane had at his disposal. Hampden Park was simply the stage on which he performed the night he joined the absolute elite of the beautiful game.
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