- Olivier Giroud’s scorpion kick has been nominated for the FIFA Puskás Award
- The French striker finished off a lightning-quick counter-attack with aplomb
- Arsene Wenger compared the goal to a “work of art”
French actor Rene-Salvator Catta famously mused that “Perhaps art is simply a desire to get close to impossible perfection.” His compatriot Olivier Giroud made his own contribution to this supposition on 1 January 2017 when he gave Arsenal fans the perfect New Year gift in an English Premier League match against Crystal Palace, scoring a beautifully acrobatic goal at the culmination of a classic counter-attack.
Remarkably, the Gunners launched the attack from just outside their own penalty box, with six of their players – including Giroud himself, with a nifty back-heel – moving the ball swiftly and smoothly towards the opposition goal. The sixth man, Alexis Sanchez, made his way down the left flank, adjusted his body to get the ball onto his right foot, and delivered a tempting waist-high cross for Giroud, who dispatched the ball into the net via the crossbar with a wonderfully agile scorpion kick.
“Alexis’ cross arrived just a little behind me, and I was a bit off-balance; I just tried to deflect it. In that kind of position, there’s not much else you can do. I’ve never tried that move before, so it was all about luck, really. It’s a great feeling!” the hero of the hour recounted modestly.
His manager, Arsene Wenger, was convinced after the game that the effort would be remembered as the “Giroud goal”, adding, “No-one will forget it. It was a work of art because of the element of surprise, because of the beauty and efficiency of movement. In my 30 years in the game, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Giroud’s team-mate, Hector Bellerin, got straight to the point. “I couldn’t believe it,” he said. Indeed, the Chambery-born attacker’s improvisation skills had the entire crowd rubbing their eyes in disbelief, as football, art and Lady Luck combined to provide an unforgettable moment of genius.
Do you agree with Gary Lineker and Niall Horan? Did Giroud score the finest goal of the year on 1 January? Would you like to see the Frenchman receive the 2017 FIFA Puskás Award? The decision rests with you. Cast your vote now for your favourite goal!