Football is often referred to as ‘The Beautiful Game’ and for good reason. There are few things that are easier on the eye in the world of sport than seeing Lionel Messi making world class defenders look like bumbling amateurs, Cristiano Ronaldo rising imperiously before heading in a goal and watching Ronaldinho in his prime, among hundreds of other such instances.
But any fan of the game will say that that it can also have its own gloriously goofy moments. An Italian magazine L’Ultimo Uomo has singled out one such passage of play and asked if it could be the “ugliest seconds we’ve ever seen in a football game.”
An Italian magazine just elected this as the worst 20 seconds of football ever played (QPR vs. Man City, 1993) pic.twitter.com/3wR3Ol12Gg
— Football__Tweet (@Football__Tweet) 12 July 2017
The match was an FA Cup fixture between Queen’s Park Rangers and Manchester City in January 1993. It was only the first season of the English Premier League which meant that football in the country was yet to transform into the sleek money spinning machine it is today and was still was in its messy, rough age.
It was 0-0 between the two sides and QPR had taken a corner kick. Les Ferdinand jumped but was unable to meet the ball with the head despite being completely unmarked. It then came to Clive Allen who was unable to control it and went to the feet of Manchester City’s Steve McMahon who inexplicably dribbles into his own box before fluffing a pass to his goalkeeper Tom Coton. That attempted pass ends up being the perfect through ball for the QPR no. 10. Coton comes off his line and unsuccessfully attempts to take the ball off the attacker’s feet and the latter sends the ball in but City somehow get it back to the keeper. Coton, instead of taking the ball in his hands attempts to clear it, only for it to rebound off a QPR attacker fall to Ferdinand. He only had to turn it into the gaping, yawning, empty net. Instead he is woefully off balance and only deflects the ball out of play. The linesman had called Ferdinand offside anyhow and it may have been one of the rare moments when an attacker would have been relieved to see the flag raised at the touchline. “What on earth happened in there?” said the commentator, possibly the best way to conclude the madness.
Manchester City did win the match 2-1 and it was, in the end, a riveting fixture. A lot has changed since then. While QPR remain low in the pecking order, City have transformed into one of the biggest clubs in the world. Football itself has changed to the point of being unrecognisable as compared to what it was back then but these situations can be found today as well. While the beautiful passes and great goals are what we point out to show why the ‘Game’ is ‘Beautiful’, one can argue that football would be incomplete without these moments too.