It’s a funny thing, football. You can walk to the train in the rain after a loss, and not feel as bad as you maybe would - simply because of a single moment, flicking through your mind in the manner of a zoetrope. Yeah, Villa lost. They lose. All teams do. They lost in disgusting fashion, but the 2-1 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday won’t live long in the memory, ironically the same stance taken as if the result was reversed. Wins happen too.
But goals like John McGinn’s goal? They take up deeds in your mind. They mark out land and space in your memory. Try all you like to forget it, but you can’t. You’re legally bound to it. Divorce yourself from it if you wish, but you’ll still be thinking about it - cursing it.
John McGinn scored THE goal of the day.— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) September 22, 2018
No arguments. pic.twitter.com/95LlLOyvjX
McGinn’s goal for Aston Villa to pull them level in a match that they would eventually lose is possible the most perfect long-range goal that has ever graced Villa Park. There’s a valid case to be made for it being the best goal every scored. The greatest shot ever taken outside the box at Villa Park. A shot heard around the world.
You see, Villa, while big, aren’t the type of club to garner 2.5 million views on a sub-second length clip of shot taken and scored by an ‘unfashionable’ Scottish midfielder. It’s a World Cup winning goal scored in a Championship loss.
Everything about McGinn’s shot is perfect, even the imperfect. It’s renegade renaissance art. It flies in the face of decency. The ball falls awkwardly to him, and he hits it with his ankle joint - just in front of his tibia. The ball is flying wide, but bending towards the goal. It moves around, outside and then in. It slams off the crossbar and against the floor. It is ugly at the end, but beautiful throughout. A paradox? Physics is taking it away from fate, where it’d usually spark someone in the Holte End between the eyes. It spins forever.
It’s still there isn’t it, that disbelief? You get the feeling that this is not at all right. This goal is scored by people hailing from favelas, breathing football because that is all that there is and ever will be. This goal wins World Cups, it does not lose Championship ties. This goal is scored by those with handcrafted diets, nutritionists, trainers and scientists honing an athlete into an artist. This goal is not meant to be scored by people who are full of beans on toast. It is Prometheus plucking sinful, godly wisdom from up high on Mount Olympus to deploy within the human realms of normality.
Players and managers come and go, but goals stay forever. John McGinn is now eternal at Villa Park.