Everyone dreams of scoring the goal that sends their country through to the final of a FIFA World Cup™. Mexico’s Julio Enrique Gomez is no different, but he could never have foreseen the remarkable manner in which his dream finally became a reality. Indeed, the midfielder scored not one but two goals – the second a stunning overhead kick with a heavily bandaged head – to fire El Tri to a 3-2 win over Germany and a place in the FIFA U-17 World Cup final.
“You always dream of scoring important goals, but this one tops them all,” Gomez told FIFA.com after the match, still dazed from the clash of heads he suffered during Mexico’s equaliser. “Right at the end I said to [teammate] Giovani [Casillas], ‘you hit it, because I can’t with this bandage on’. He told me to go and stand where the ball came to me. When I saw it drop just behind me, I had no choice but to go for the overhead, and luckily it went in,” said the Mexico No8, who later received seven stitches to his head wound.
The injury came as Mexico’s Jorge Espericueta sent a corner kick directly into the German net to bring the hosts level at 2-2. “I remember the collision as I went for the ball,” said Gomez. “Suddenly, everything went blank and I couldn’t open my eyes. I was really scared when I saw my shirt covered in blood, but then I started to calm down.”
Despite the advice of Mexico’s medical team, Gomez asked to return to the pitch. “The doctor told me, ‘you have to stop now, you can’t carry on,’ but I knew we didn’t have any substitutions left, and I wasn’t prepared to let the team play with ten men,” the Pachuca player explained. “So I said to him, ‘bandage me up, do whatever you want, but I am going to continue.” The rest, as they say, is history.
A brave comeback
Born in the city of Tampico, Tamaulipas, Gomez is the only player in Raul Gutierrez’s squad to have already played in Mexico’s top flight. He made his debut for Pachuca's Los Tuzos against Santos Laguna on 22 January this year, in the same stadium where he scored his memorable semi-final brace against Germany.
Gomez’s first goal came in the third minute, and perfectly demonstrated what the athletic midfielder is all about. Starting on the right, Gomez moved forward with the play before making a diagonal run into the box and placing a real centre-forward’s header past the German goalkeeper. “It’s part of the job that Raul [Gutierrez] asks me to do,” said Gomez. “When I saw that Jorge [Caballero] was about to send the cross in, I anticipated the German defender’s movement and did my best to get my head on it.”
Gomez seems not the least bit surprised by his side’s brilliant comeback against Germany. “The team felt good,” he said. “We performed as a unit and played our natural game. That said, you should never be too confident. Fortunately, we reacted fantastically well and proved that football matches last the full ninety minutes.”
In front of Gomez and his team-mates lies a final showdown with Uruguay in one of the most historic stadiums in world football. “Just thinking about playing in front of a full Estadio Azteca makes me extremely happy, because it means we’ve managed to reach the final,” added Gomez. “It’s a reward for all our efforts, but we’re not finished yet. We’ve got one more very tough match against an opponent we know well. They beat us 6-2 in the last friendly we played together, so this could be sweet revenge.”