Guti set the soccer world on fire this past week with his seemingly blind back heel to Benzema. And it was an audacious, unselfish, risky, and genius back heel at that. The Spanish website Marca.com dubbed Guti’s back heel ‘The Heel of God’, putting it up there with Maradona’s Hand of God. It very well could be the play of the year in European football.
And Guti’s goal deserved all the attention it was getting, as Guti’s back heel was the kind of goal that changes a season. It was a goal which gives Real Madrid a boost of energy and a stronger sense of team. It was a goal that they might look back on as a turning point in their quest to catch Barcelona in the La Liga table.
Guti’s heel pass was a game changer, a momentum changer, and a career changer for him, as he was mentioned again for the Spanish national team, which he hasn't played on in nearly five years.
But those types of plays are the brilliant moments in games when the momentum shifts for a sluggish team or spurs a team on to new heights. Sometimes it takes a hard tackle, a goalkeeper’s save, a player chasing down a ball that seems lost, someone pulling off a surprising move, a pass, a goal or a successful back heel to spark a team.
However, the back heel is a pass that coaches usually frown upon unless it works. What if Guti’s back heel missed? Would we praise the effort or call him stupid? We’d all probably the say it was the later and Guti is just a showboat with long hair and tattoos. That he should have slotted the ball home himself. But when a move or a play can turn around a game, and perhaps even a season, it’s sometimes worth the risk.
The back heel is about the joy of football, as Nike put it, the Ginga. It’s about having fun, sharing of the ball, it’s an alley-oop type play for the crowd to enjoy.
Here are a few brilliant heel passes from some of the world's greatest players:
And we’re talking about back heel passes and not goals. Back heel goals are amazing too, but the back heel pass is unselfish, it unites a team, and again, it’s about sharing the ball.
Benzema is a fan of the heel pass to himself, as you can see in the video below, and which may explain why he was prepared for Guti's blind heel pass back to the top of the box. But again, the joy is when you make a pass to someone else and they score, and it's even more joyous if it's a surprise pass that nobody but the goal scorer expects.
What is the best back heel pass you’ve ever seen? Not back heel goals, which are also brilliant to see, but back heel passes that lead to goals, those are even better.