Bicycle kicks are such a common occurrence in the sport of beach soccer that it takes a very special one to really catch the eye of the fans. That was the case just 34 seconds into the opening match of the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup Portugal 2015, when Italy’s Gabriele Gori produced a spectacular overhead kick to put his side ahead against Costa Rica and get the tournament goal counter off the mark.

The No10 did not stop there, finding the back of the net twice more and showing just how little time and space he needs to control the ball, contort his body into the right position and let fly, invariably on target.

“I think it’s a talent you’re born with,” said the smiling striker, in conversation with after Italy’s 6-1 win. “And, of course, it’s also down to an awful lot of training. It’s about training and making it part of your game.

“I also play 11-a-side football and you score a goal like that once a season. On the sand, though, you need to have that trick up your sleeve so you can lift the ball up whenever you get a chance and go for goal.”

Though opponents are well aware of Gori’s adeptness when it comes to bicycle and scissor kicks, Costa Rica were still unable to prevent him from producing his trademark acrobatics on Thursday.

“We knew how good he is when the ball is in the air and we knew he was going to try it against us because he’s very accurate,” explained Tico coach Franklin Zuniga. “We spoke about it but we just couldn’t stop him.

“If Gori tried it on one side of the pitch only or he just stayed in the middle, it would be a question of defending that area. The thing is, he moves around everywhere and he’s always ready to pounce on any slack marking. He scored exactly the kind of goals we expected him to try and score because he’s a fantastic player. He’s one of the best there is in executing these types of kicks.”

The aerial route
Gori has proved so consistent and effective in front of goal that he is now approaching 100 goals for his country. According to the Italian FA’s records, his hat-trick against the Costa Ricans took him to 96 goals in 64 games. Still only 27, the front man is on the way to eclipsing his 31-year-old team-mate Paolo Palmacci, who four years ago became Italy’s all-time leading marksman on the sand.  

“The way he’s going he’ll catch me soon, make no mistake,” laughed Palmacci, who has amassed 159 goals in 164 international matches. “I’ve watched him grow over these last few years and I’m delighted to see the results. I think the fans here in Portugal are going to have a lot more fun watching him.

“To my mind, he’s one of the best beach soccer players around at the moment, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my friend.”

Friends or not, the fact is that Gori has just as much praise for his room-mate, to whom he is indebted for “at least half” of the goals he has scored to date.

“Paolo gives me a lot of help, as do the rest of my team-mates,” said Gori. “It goes without saying that the most important thing is that Italy keep on winning, though obviously I’m delighted with these goals and with the fact that I’ve arrived at the World Cup 100 per cent fit and ready.”

As Gori went on to say, he represented Italy at Ravenna 2011, in rather different circumstances: “It was totally different. I didn’t play much on that occasion because I’d just come back from a knee injury.

“I was a different kind of player too. People talk about my ability when the ball is in the air, but it didn’t happen so much back then. Now everyone’s expecting me to do it.”

As Gori showed on Thursday, however, the fans have every right to expect something out of the ordinary from him.