“Ah, that goal!” A grin spreads across Bryan Rabello’s face. This is one subject of which he will never tire of speaking.
The goal in question is something of an internet sensation; a ferocious free-kick sent crashing in off the inside of the post from almost 40 yards. In a meaningless friendly or end-of-season encounter, it would have been magnificent enough.
Yet Rabello’s pride in this spectacular strike lies not so much in its style, but its significance. It was, after all, this stunning free-kick that secured Chile’s place at Turkey 2013, as the all-important equaliser in their decisive 1-1 qualifying draw with Peru.
“I felt so, so happy,” he told FIFA.com, reflecting on his wonder strike. “Those are the kind of goals you dream about, especially because it was so important for the team. Qualifying for a U-20 World Cup is something that Chile hadn’t been able to do since 2007, so it felt great to know that my goal had got us back to this fantastic tournament.”
Important as making it to Turkey was, Rabello is not content simply to be here. Having advanced at the expense of, among others, Argentina and reigning champions Brazil, Chile are one of several teams that, according to the Sevilla midfielder, can dream of going the distance.
“I think that this is a very open tournament – there are no big favourites,” he said. “If we can maintain our focus, we have a real chance of doing something here. Every single player in this team has something special to bring, I really believe that. If we can put all those things together, we can be a great team. There are players in our team who I think everyone should watch out for; guys like Nicolas Castillo, Angelo Henriquez, Christian Bravo and Nicolas Maturana. And if we all play to our best, we can have a great tournament here in Turkey.
“We want to go all the way. But the only way we can do that is by taking everything step by step; play the first match to our very best level, then move on to the second and do the same. What will hopefully happen is that, bit by bit, we will get better and better as the tournament goes on.”
Steady improvement might be the goal, but Rabello also knows that Chile will need to hit the ground running if they are to avoid defeat in a tough opening fixture. Egypt, their opponents, arrive in Turkey as African champions and are themselves seen by many as potential dark horses. Yet Rabello has a particular reason for approaching the meeting, not with trepidation, but with excitement – and happy memories.
“I lined up for the senior international team for the first time against Egypt,” he explained, looking back to his starting debut in a friendly on 8 February 2013. “That was a dream come true for me, and we won, so it was a great day. But Egypt were tough opponents and I’m sure they will be just as tough for us here in Turkey. But all we can do is our best, and I think that we have the skills to combat the qualities that they possess.”
Confident but not cocky, the former Colo Colo star is sure to be among the principal danger men to the Pharaohs, with his invention and dribbling ability marking him out as one of the tournament’s players to watch. But should the big occasion call once again, and a free-kick opportunity presents itself, should we dare expect a repeat of his heroics against Peru?
“Of course,” he replied without hesitation. “I really believe in myself in those situations. All I need is an opportunity. I practice my free-kicks all the time. Every chance I get, I’m out there working on them. My aim is to get better and better – to become perfect. I know that will be difficult, but that is what I’m working towards.”
And while perfection might seem an impossible dream, as anyone who has seen Rabello’s wonder goal will testify: impossible is nothing.